Graduate Studies in Astronomy enable a student to understand and contribute to humanity’s understanding of the physical universe beyond the Earth’s lower atmosphere. BU’s program offers students a warm and supportive environment in which to pursue a wide range of research opportunities in astrophysics, space physics, and planetary science. Our graduate program will prepare students for a career in astronomical research and education by emphasizing a broad understanding of physical systems and teaching the skills necessary to perform leading-edge research.
The Department of Astronomy, through its affiliated research units (the Center for Space Physics and the Institute for Astrophysical Research), has a robust and thriving research program. Our major research areas are extragalactic astronomy (including active galaxies, dark matter, and clusters of galaxies), galactic astronomy (including the interstellar medium, galactic magnetic fields, low-mass stars and star formation, and extra-solar system planets and planet formation), instrumentation (including sounding rockets, satellites, polarimetry, and spectroscopy), planetary astronomy (including exoplanet imaging, planetary aurorae, and planetary atmospheres and ionospheres), and space physics (including space plasma physics, heliophysics, atmospheres, ionospheres, and space weather modeling).
Students have access to instructional optical and radio telescopes in the Judson B. Coit Observatory, located on the rooftop of the College of Arts & Sciences building. Through our partnership with Lowell Observatory, BU astronomers have guaranteed time for ground-based astronomical research on the 4.3m Discovery Channel Telescope and on the 1.8m Perkins Telescope (both located near Flagstaff, AZ). BU astronomers are also frequent guests at national and international facilities in Puerto Rico, Chile, Peru, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Arizona, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Australia. BU astronomers also regularly use space-based facilities such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the Cluster suite of four satellites, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Spitzer satellite, the Herschel satellite, and the Swift satellite.