Far-UV to Mid-IR Spectral Energy Distributions of Nearby Merging Galaxies
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Simulations of gas-rich, major galaxy mergers predict elevated amounts of star formation (SF) and nuclear black hole growth (active galactic nuclei, or AGN). This model is supported by observations that find enhanced SF in mergers, but support for the AGN-merger connection remains uncertain. Interstellar dust, a bi-product of SF, can block much of the light from an AGN and re-radiate that energy at infrared (IR) wavelengths. Therefore, quantifying the amount of buried AGN activity in the IR is key to understanding the role of major mergers in galaxy evolution. Spectral energy distributions (SEDs) allow Astrophysicists to disentangle AGN activity from SF. I hypothesize that applying SED analysis to a sample of merging galaxies will show an enhancement in AGN activity over control galaxies. I perform SED analysis from the far-ultraviolet (FUV) to the mid-IR on a sample of 49 merging galaxies and 49 statistically-matched control galaxies in the nearby universe. I find that the SED AGN luminosity correlates with the [OIII] luminosity, a common indicator of AGN power. I find that galaxies previously identified as Seyfert or WISE AGNs generally have a higher SED AGN luminosity. I do not find an increased occurrence of SED-detected AGNs in merging over control galaxies, rejecting our study hypothesis. To meet the interdisciplinary requirements of this degree, I also design a new graduate-level course in Multicultural Education for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. “Diversity and Inclusion” have become buzz words in STEM, as research continues to show achievement and participation gaps for women, people of color, disabled persons, those of low socio-economic status, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Research about the STEM gaps has existed for decades, particularly with respect to teaching practices that contribute to under-representation. Yet little change has occurred in STEM classrooms. Graduate students (i.e., future STEM professors and industry leaders) stand in a unique position to impact diversity and inclusion efforts. Through targeted education centered on diversity and inclusion in teaching methods, we can produce a new generation of STEM educators who are aware and mindful of their unique role in fighting inequality in STEM.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Sample selection -- Analysis -- Discussion -- Summary -- Multicultural education in STEM fields: A new course for STEM majors at the graduate level
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)