Associate professor of physics and astronomy
- Creative Research Medal, 2012
Robin Shelton, associate professor of physics and astronomy, is a world expert on our galaxy, the Milky Way. She is particularly interested in the interstellar medium, the gas between the stars. Dr. Shelton played a seminal role in revising the Local Bubble model, the theory that violent stellar explosions created a bubble of hot gas around the solar system. By analyzing X-rays, the key evidence for the Local Bubble, Dr. Shelton’s research team demonstrated that their brightness is related to the Sun’s activity cycle. Thus, most of the X-rays come from the solar wind, not hot interstellar gas. In addition, Dr. Shelton has become interested in massive clouds of gas that are falling into, enlarging and energizing our galaxy. Using a cluster of high-performance computers, her group simulates the interaction between these massive gas clouds and material within our galaxy. Her group is the first to accurately track the ionization of the gas, thus enabling them to compare with sophisticated observations.