“What you see depends on how you look,” says Richard Ignace, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at ETSU.

Ignace has been with ETSU since 2003 and has represented the university on numerous research efforts, collaborating with others across the globe.

Richard Ignace

“What attracted me to ETSU was the diversity of concentrations within the astronomy department,” Ignace said.

His primary focus is on the theoretical aspect complementing the observational side.

With advancement in the fields of astronomy, cosmology and astrophysics, scientists are beginning to piece together answers to long-standing questions.

For example, a lot of work has been focused on finding planets, especially those that might sustain life.

Astronomy is an exciting area of science in which many significant discoveries have taken place recently, from dark energy to gravitational waves and even an image of the event horizon of a supermassive black hole, which have all been covered extensively in the news media.

Ignace’s main focus of research is on massive stars, which can range from 10 to 100 times the mass of the sun.

“I work to understand the environment around these massive stars, how atmospheric gases are driven in outward flowing winds, the different structure that form around stars, and the magnetic properties of massive stars.”

Massive stars are important because of how they dominate galactic environments, along with the intriguing “storylines” of massive stars – how they are born, live, terminate and leave behind exotic remnants like black holes or neutron stars.

Ignace says that he has been fortunate to partner with researchers from across the nation and even the globe to study massive stars with NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based radio telescopes.

Ignace finds the work rewarding, and he enjoys sharing astronomy with the public at events like the department’s public nights at the ETSU Harry Powell Observatory or in presentations at area schools.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the topics mentioned, consider classes like Astronomy I or II and Life in the Universe.