R. Bruce Partridge
Bettye and Howard Marshall Professor of Natural Sciences and Professor of Astronomy
B.A., Princeton University
D.Phil, Oxford University
Most of my research activities have involved the use of radio astronomy to answer questions about the origin and evolution of large-scale structures in the Universe, structures such as galaxies and clusters of galaxies. A particular interest has been the cosmic microwave background radiation (CBR)--the "heat" left over from the Big Bang origin of the Universe. I was among the first to search for fluctuations in its intensity, fluctuations which provide information about the distribution of matter in the first few hundred thousand years of the history of the Universe. I am still engaged in such measurements, using the VLA for instance. Related work includes preparation for the Planck Surveyor, an ESA mission to map the CBR with unprecedented resolution and sensitivity. My major duties for Planck center on the extragalatic radio sources it will detect and characterize (see Planck Working Group 6). In the past few years, my interests have shifted to more conventional radio, infrared and optical studies of galaxies, especially those in which star formation is proceeding rapidly. For instance, with colleagues from Arizona State University and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, I have made the most sensitive radio maps of the sky ever constructed. One of these is the radio-frequency map of the Hubble Deep Field. We used these radio images to investigate the properties of star-forming galaxies very far from us, and hence seen much earlier in the history of the Universe. One such map is displayed here, in the form of radio contours overlaid on an optical Space Telescope photo of the same area. Note the overlap. The energy received from the fainter radio sources shown here is roughly equivalent to the energy that would be received from a flashlight at the distance of Saturn! I'm also interested in very young radio sources, those with spectra that rise with frequency. For many of these observations I have used the Very Large Array in New Mexico, an array of 27 large radio telescopes. I have also used other radio, optical and infrared telescopes in the U.S., Europe and Argentina. Earlier research interests included optical pumping of He, pulsars, short time-scale phenomena in astronomy and the early stages of galaxy formation.