Dr. Graeme Smith

Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Astronomer, UC Observatories/Lick Observatory

Office: 135 Interdisciplinary Sciences
Phone: 831-459-2907
Email: graeme@ucolick.org

Educational Background:

  • B.S., Australian National University
  • Ph.D., Australian National University

Research Interest:

The main area of Smith’s research has been the properties of the oldest populations of stars within our Galaxy, with regard to both their physical evolution and what they can tell us about the chemical enrichment history of the Milky Way. Much of his work has been directed towards the study of abundances difference among stars within globular clusters. These clusters are amongst the oldest stellar systems within the Galaxy, having formed at a time when the process of galactic chemical enrichment was just commencing. Striking differences in the abundances of the elements carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sodium, magnesium, and aluminum typically exist among stars within the same globular cluster. Understanding the origin of these differences can potentially provide information about the early environment in the halo of our Galaxy, within which the globular clusters formed, as well as about processes, such as mixing, occurring within the interiors of their stars.

Another area of interest is that of chromospheric activity among evolved red giants, particularly those of Population II. Spectroscopic studies have been carried out of chromospheric emission lines among old red giants in the Galactic halo. By determining how the chromospheric lines behave as a function of stellar luminosity and evolutionary state it is hoped that some insight may be gained into the processes responsible for chromospheric heating and mass loss among these stars.

Other areas of interest to Smith include the spectroscopy of comets in our Solar System and the chemcial composition of red giants in Galactic open clusters.