Dr. Trystyn Berg becomes the new Plaskett Fellow

- Victoria, British Columbia

The National Research Council of Canada's Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre recently welcomed its newest Plaskett Fellow, Dr. Trystyn Berg.

Dr. Berg received his PhD in 2018 from the University of Victoria under the supervision of Professor Sara Ellison. Prior to accepting the role of Plaskett Fellow, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, working as part of the quasar group for the WEAVE survey.

From 2018 to 2022, he was an instrument fellow at the European Southern Observatory for the Very Large Telescope's ESPRESSO instrument.

"What attracted me to the Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre is the combination of experience and the diverse scientific background of the staff, along with their work at the forefront of many cutting-edge instrumentation projects such as the Gemini High Resolution Optical Spectrograph, the Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and Ultraviolet Research and the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment," he explains.

Wearing a hard hat, Trystyn stands proudly inside a facility with his arms outstretched showing off a very large telescope suspended from above.

Trystyn beneath an 8-metre telescope

Astrophysicists still do not have a great understanding of how galaxies evolve. Some of what they do know is that, when stars are formed, the gas in their cores becomes enriched with heavy elements like carbon, oxygen and iron.

And when massive stars die in supernova explosions, the gas they eject is enriched further. That ejected gas can be used to make new stars. However, in certain circumstances, the explosions send the gas beyond their original galaxies, which can suppress the formation of new stars.

Dr. Berg examines the elemental abundances of gas ejected by supernovae to see what they can tell us about the evolution of an entire galaxy. The abundances can tell us how many stars the galaxy had and what types of stars it made. He is currently the principal investigator for 2 observing programs on this topic.

The first program uses observations from the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, installed on the Hubble Space Telescope. That instrument allows scientists to better observe faint sources of ultraviolet light, which can be absorbed at specific wavelengths by intervening gas near foreground galaxies. The team is investigating the amount of ionized carbon surrounding galaxies to measure the temperature of gas removed from galaxies.

The second program uses the ultra-high resolution ESPRESSO instrument on the Very Large Telescope. His team plans to work on several topics, from isolating the properties of the dark matter particle to searching for the elemental signature of first stars using the abundances of carbon isotopes.

Dr. Berg will continue independent research as a Plaskett Fellow. The prestigious Plaskett Fellowship has been awarded to recent doctoral graduates in astrophysics or a closely related field since 1975. Fellows conduct research at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, in Victoria, BC.

Learn more about the Plaskett Fellowship.