The Hubble sequence of galaxies resembles a simple classification chart, yet underneath the neatly aligned shapes and colors lie complex and violent histories. Through radio, infrared, UV and optical astronomy, today we can deduce these histories - and the future. Nearby examples of every stage in the Hubble sequence provide living galactic fossils that reveal their 10 billion years of evolution. Dr. Alatalo will tour the Hubble sequence, exploring three avenues to galactic transitions: the quiet, slow fade; the violent merger; and the quietly violent evolution of a galaxy, likely due to a supermassive black hole in its center. By exploring how each piece of the puzzle fits with every other piece, we can understand the evolution of the Universe and fundamental questions of how we got here.
Dr. Katherine Alatalo is a Hubble fellow working at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, CA., specifically focused on the question of what makes galaxies die. From 2012 - 2015, she worked as a postdoctoral scholar with Dr. Philip Appleton at IPAC/Caltech, studying the effects that shocks have on galaxies within Hickson Compact Groups. Alatalo graduated in 2012 with a Ph.D. in astrophysics from UC-Berkeley.