Dr. Noelia Noel


Biography

Noelia was born in a small Argentinean town located 800 km South from Buenos Aires. When she was five, her father built a dome on top of her home's roof and put a telescope there. That's when she became interested in the Magellanic Clouds, our two closest irregular galaxies, seen as two Milky patches on the Southern skies.

She obtained her PhD in Astrophysics in 2008 from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias. After then, she joined the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh as a Marie Curie postdoc from Nov. 2008 until Dec. 2009. From Jan. 2010 she had a Research Scientist position at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. From Dec. 2011 until Feb. 2013 she did a postdoc at the ETH Zürich.

Noelia joined the Astrophysics group at the University of Surrey in March 2013 as a Research Fellow.

Research interests

Noelia's research focuses on the study of resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies.

The field of resolved stellar populations study of the ecology of stars – it connects the nature, variety and number of stars with the environment in which they live. The key observable used is a plot of the colours versus the brightnesses of stars called the Colour Magnitude Diagram (CMD). Comparing the observed distribution of stars in the CMD with predictions from stellar evolution models, allows us to measure when, where and how rapidly stars formed within a galaxy. We can determine which stars did not originate within the galaxy, having been most likely subsumed from a smaller companion galaxy in a galactic merger. And we can calculate how much gas must have been available, or accreted, in order to form these stars.

Resolving nearby stars is also very powerful in order to address the behaviour of extragalactic systems. The light we see from external galaxies comes from billions of unresolved stars. This galactic light encodes the entire history of a galaxy and, by fitting stellar models to this light, we can have a powerful probe of galaxy formation and evolution. In practice, this is hampered by our incomplete knowledge of how stars form and evolve. One way to make progress is to use nearby star clusters as templates to calibrate stellar evolution models. The clusters in the Magellanic Clouds, our nearest galaxies, are ideal since each star can be individually resolved. Comparing models with resolved star clusters is of key importance in order to calibrate the stellar population synthesis models and provide a better constrain for extragalactic studies.

Publications

For a full list of publications (freely available for download), see: arXiv.org.