Charles Figura

Professor of Physics / Director, Platte Observatory

More about Charles Figura

B.S., 1992, Bradley University
M.S., 1997, Ph.D., 1999, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Office: Science Center 356

Current Schedule
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Courses Taught:
PHY 101 & 102: General Physics Sequence
PHY 150: Science for Society
PHY 170: Introduction to Astronomy
PHY 195: Astrobiology: The Search for Life in the Cosmos
PHY 311: Electricity and Magnetism
PHY 370: Topics in Astrophysics
PHY 402: Advanced Mechanics
PHY 455: Methods of Physical Research
PHY 456: Student-Originated Research
PHY 460: Capstone

Other Activities with Students:
Co-advisor of the Society of Physics Students
Co-advisor for the Sigma Pi Sigma physics honor society
Juggling club

Wartburg Observatory
I maintain and operate the Wartburg Platte Observatory for the College. The Observatory features a number of Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes for use by the astronomy and astrophysics classes, student research, and public outreach.

The Observatory invites the public to Wartburg Nights Open House events on the second Friday of each month, weather permitting. Please contact me for more information.

Current Research/Area of Interest:

Triggered Star Formation.
Small-scale sequential star formation (S4F) is understood to occur in giant molecular clouds when hot young stars influence the gas and dust in their immediate neighborhoods, prompting the collapse of cloud cores and the formation of new stars. This process then repeats as these newly-formed stars begin to affect their own surroundings. A variety of mechanisms are thought to be employed S4F regions. We study these mechanisms in bright-rimmed clouds and “Churchwell Bubbles”, focusing on the mechanism of radiative-driven implosion (RDI). Our collaboration uses observations of molecular lines (such as NH3 and CO) observed in the radio band to determine the conditions in these clouds in order to constrain the RDI mechanism.

Tracking of asteroids and comets.
The motions of small objects such as comets and asteroids are difficult to predict over long time periods as they interact with various larger planets that perturb their orbits. As a result, while it is important to look for new, undiscovered objects, it is also critical to recover objects and update their orbital parameters. Research students at Wartburg use the Platte Telescope at the Wartburg-Platte Observatory (IAU Observatory H42) to measure positions of objects to under 1″ RMS position, and apparent brightnesses as faint as magnitude 19.

Recent Publications:

C. C. Figura, L. K. Morgan, M. A. Thompson, J. S. Urquhart, and T. J. T. Moore. Using The Herschel Hi-GAL Survey And The RMS Survey To Characterise Triggered Star Formation In Galactic Bubbles. In American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #219, volume 219 of American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, page 341.11, January 2012.

J. S. Urquhart, L. K. Morgan, C. C. Figura, T. J. T. Moore, S. L. Lumsden, M. G. Hoare, R. D. Oudmaijer, J. C. Mottram, B. Davies, and M. K. Dunham. Red MSX water maser and ammonia emissions (Urquhart+, 2011). VizieR Online Data Catalog, 741:81689, February 2012.

J. S. Urquhart, L. K. Morgan, C. C. Figura, T. J. T. Moore, S. L. Lumsden, M. G. Hoare, R. D. Oudmaijer, J. C. Mottram, B. Davies, and M. K. Dunham. The RMS Survey: Ammonia and water maser analysis of massive star forming regions. ArXiv e-prints, July 2011.

C. C. Figura, L. K. Morgan, T. Moore, and J. S. Urquhart. Molecular Kinematics Tracers in Bright-Rimmed Cloud SFO14. In American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, volume 217 of American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, pages 411.04–+, January 2011.

L. K. Morgan, C. C. Figura, J. S. Urquhart, and M. A. Thompson. Ammonia observations of bright-rimmed clouds: establishing a sample of triggered protostars. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 408:157–169, October 2010.