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Photograph of Bruce McCollum

Bruce McCollum Physicist in Residence Physics

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My career has been as a staff scientist on the operations staff of several space observatories (IUE, Spitzer, and WISE). My research has consisted of observational astronomy. I have been the principal investigator on multiple observing proposals for IUE, HST, SOFIA, and Spitzer, as well as for some ground-based observatories. Since the turn of the century, my research interests have pertained to various aspects of stellar astronomy. During the past several years, I have collaborated with Fred Bruhweiler and Lee Rottler on several projects to study what are called “transients”, a term broadly referring to a variety of astronomical objects exhibiting large, unexpected spikes in brightness which are thought to result from various outburst processes not yet well understood. One example is that of “red novae”, which were recognized as a distinct class of outburst about ten years ago and are generally thought to result from the violent merger of the two members of a close binary star system. In addition, recently I have been working with Fred Bruhweiler on a project which has obtained HST spectra of a binary system which contains a collimated outflow (“jet”), whose fortuitous orientation directly towards Earth allows us to obtain unique information about the structure of the jet which will be valuable for modeling the ubiquitous phenomenon of astronomical jets.
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