Rick Watkins

Professor of Physics

Education

  • B.A., Cornell University (1984)
  • Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara (1989)

Professional Interests

Dr. Watkins' research interests include Astrophysics, Cosmology, and Particle Physics. His current research is focused on both nearby stars and on distant galaxies. In the solar neighborhood, he and his undergraduate research students study short-period variable stars using a newly constructed research observatory located at nearby Zena Farm. These stars pulsate in size, and hence brightness, over periods as short as a few hours. By taking sequential images of these stars, students can construct a “light curve” for a star, which plots its brightness over time. Further analysis of this light curve yields information about the dynamics of the star’s pulsation, which in turn can help us understand how all stars work.

On much larger scales, Dr. Watkins studies the flow of galaxies though the Universe. Basically, galaxies are pulled by gravity into regions where matter is concentrated and out of regions that are relatively empty. By studying these motions one can learn how much matter the Universe contains, how it is distributed, and how this distribution is changing in time. This information can, in turn, be used to test models of how the Universe has evolved, thus illuminating such issues as dark matter and dark energy.

Recent Publications

R, Watkins and H.A. Feldman (2015). An Unbiased Estimator of Peculiar Velocity with Gaussian Distributed Errors for Precision Cosmology, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 450, 1868.

R. Watkins and H.A. Feldman (2015). Large-scale Bulk Flows fromt he Cosmicflows-2Catalog, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 447, 132.

D.L. Wiltshire, P.R. Smale, T. Mattson, and R. Watkins (2013). Hubble Flow Variance and the Cosmic Rest Frame, Physical Review D. 88, 083529.

E. Macaulay, H.A. Feldman, P.G. Ferreira, H.J. Jaffe, S. Agarwal, M.J. Hudson, and R. Watkins (2012). Power Spectrum Estimation from Peculiar Velocity Catalogues. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 425, 1709.

S. Agarwal, H.A. Feldman, and R. Watkins. (2012). Testing the Minimum Variance Method for Estimating Large-Scale Velocity Moments. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 424, 2667.

S.J. Turnbull, M.J. Hudson, H.A. Feldman, M. Hicken, R.P. Kirshner, and R. Watkins. (2012). Cosmic Flows in the Nearby Universe from Type Ia Supernovae. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 420, 447.

E. Macaulay, H.A. Feldman, P.G. Ferreira, M.J. Hudson, and R. Watkins. (2011). A Slight Excess of Large Scale Power from Moments of the Peculiar Velocity Field. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 414, 621.

H.A. Feldman, R. Watkins, and M.J. Hudson. (2010). Cosmic Flows on 100 Mpc/h Scales: Standardized Minimum Variance Bulk Flow, Shear, and Octupole Moments. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 392 756.

R. Berry. D. Gray, J. Green, D. Medley, N. Rebol, and R. Watkins. (2009). Photometry of XX Cygni at Pine Mountain Observator: Summer Research Workshop 2009. Small Telescopes and Astronomical Research, eds. R. Genet, J.M. Johnson and V. Wallen, Collins Foundation Press.

R. Watkins, H.A. Feldman, and M.J. Hudson. (2009). Consistently Large Cosmic Flows on Scales of 100h-1 Mpc: A Challenge for the Standard ΛCDM Cosmology. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 392, 743.

H.A. Feldman and R. Watkins. (2008). Bulk Flow and Shear Moments of the SFI++ Survey. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 387, 825.

R. Watkins and H.A. Feldman. (2007). Power Spectrum Shape from Peculiar Velocity Data. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 379, 343.

D. Sarkar, H.A. Feldman, and R. Watkins. (2007). Bulk Flows from Velocity Field Surveys: A Consistency Check. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 375, 691.