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David S. Meier

Associate Professor (Astrophysics)
Physics Department
333 Workman Center
New Mexico Tech
801 Leroy Place
Socorro, NM 87801

Phone: (575) 835-5340 
Office: Workman 359


Useful Astronomy Links:

Astrophysical Journal
Astronomical Journal
JPL molspec
Cologne molspec
Lovas List
The Astrochymist
Sky & Telescope
Astronomy Mag.

Recent Press:

12/17 --- On our NGC 5253 ALMA results here
12/16 --- On Our II Zw40 40 ALMA results here & here
03/15 --- On Our NGC 5253 SMA results here & here


Stars form from dense molecular clouds. However the particulars of how this process is regulated, especially on galactic scales, remains a field of active research. My research focuses on the evolution of star formation and its natal fuel across galaxies. My primarily observational program uses radio/millimeter interferometry and IR continuum/spectroscopy of nearby star forming galaxies to image, at high spatial resolution, the physical and chemical properties of star formation's molecular gas fuel. The radio/millimeter spectroscopy is done using interferometers including, NRAO's Jansky Very Large Array, the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, the Australia Telescope Compact Array and the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer. Such observations illuminate the physical (temperature, density, pressure, amount and location of heating/cooling sources) and dynamical (gas motions, locations of shocked gas, presence of outflows, feedback from pre-existing stars or supermassive black holes [AGN]) properties of a galaxy. The changing gas properties are compared with maps of star formation rate and efficiency from radio/mm continuum and IR continuum/spectroscopy. The IR observations are done with both ground and space-based telescopes including, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the W. H. Keck Observatories.

Studying spectral lines originating from transitions between quantum mechanical levels within a wide variety of molecules give us directly the chemical abundances in the interstellar medium, as well as can be used as 'thermometers' and 'barometers' of the gas. [For a description of interstellar molecular spectroscopy see the nice online NRAO Essentials of Radio Astronomy Lecture section.] Moreover, the abundances and temperatures of the molecular gas tell us about the internal microphysics that control the cloud's state. Different molecules trace different chemical regimes. Fortunately the interstellar medium has a rich chemistry of diagnostic molecules ( see list; with one of these [Cyanoformaldehyde] being co-discovered by yours truly), including both common species found on Earth (e.g. water [H2O], ammonia [NH3], methane [CH4], formaldehyde [H2CO], carbon monoxide [CO]) and more exotic species (e.g. HCO+, N2H+, c-C3H2, HCCNC, HC9N). Example research highlights are given below:

Recent Research Highlights:

See Publications for an exhaustive list of my publications. If you would like to use the images below, a citation to the paper is required and I would appreciate an email indicating their use.
Google Scholar Citations


Mark McCoy (Ph.D.) (current)
Tierra Candelaria (Ph.D) (current)

Crystal Anderson (Ph.D.) (Graduated - 2016)
Alexandra Lutz (M.S.) (Graduated - 2013)


Molecular Spectroscopy Notes:

Below are a couple of molecular line primers to aid the extragalactic community is setting up telescopic observations.



(The VLA band primer may also be found linked from the NRAO spectral line intro webpage.)