Leslie W Looney

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Professional Information

My group studies the cutest stars - big and cuddly protostars only 10,000 to 100,000 years old, before they turn punky and begin to fuse hydrogen into helium in their core in about 1 million years. These stars are surrounded by envelopes of dust and gas that give us direct evidence of how stars form and how early planetary systems are going to form.  Lately, we have been most excited about 1) how circumstellar disks evolve from the earliest stages and what impact the disk has on the evolution of planets via dust grain growth, and 2) the polarization of light from the circumstellar disk which arises from three mechanisms, aligned dust grains via magnetic field, aligned dust grains from radiation, and/or scattering.   

The sources we study are usually deeply embedded in gas and dust, which means that they can only be observed at wavelengths longer than 10 microns.   Thus, our  group typically utilizes ALMA, SOFIA, and VLA observations to peer into stellar nurseries.

However, lately I am also considering variability of sources in LSST.

Current Graduate Students:

Frankie Encalada

Rachel Harrison

Past Graduate Students:

Shiya Wang (2008)

Yu-Shao "Jerry" Shiao (2008)

Woojin Kwon (2009)

Jonathan Seale (2010)

Hsin-Fang Chiang (2011)

I-Jen "Katherine" Lee (2013)

Ian Stephens (2013)

Dominique Segura-Cox (2017)

Erin Cox (2018)

Honors & Awards


Office Address

123 Astronomy Building, MC-221
1002 W. Green St.
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Phone

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Research Output

SOFIA/HAWC+ Traces the Magnetic Fields in NGC 1068

Lopez-Rodriguez, E., Dowell, C. D., Jones, T. J., Harper, D. A., Berthoud, M., Chuss, D., Dale, D. A., Guerra, J. A., Hamilton, R. T., Looney, L. W., Michail, J. M., Nikutta, R., Novak, G., Santos, F. P., Sheth, K., Siah, J., Staguhn, J., Stephens, I. W., Tassis, K., Trinh, C. Q. & 4 others, Ward-Thompson, D., Werner, M., Wollack, E. J. & Zweibel, E. G., Jan 10 2020, In : Astrophysical Journal. 888, 2, 66.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • The VLA/ALMA Nascent Disk and Multiplicity (VANDAM) Survey of Orion Protostars. II. A Statistical Characterization of Class 0 and Class i Protostellar Disks

    Tobin, J. J., Sheehan, P. D., Megeath, S. T., Díaz-Rodríguez, A. K., Offner, S. S. R., Murillo, N. M., Van 'T Hoff, M. L. R., Van Dishoeck, E. F., Osorio, M., Anglada, G., Furlan, E., Stutz, A. M., Reynolds, N., Karnath, N., Fischer, W. J., Persson, M., Looney, L. W., Li, Z. Y., Stephens, I., Chandler, C. J. & 16 others, Cox, E., Dunham, M. M., Tychoniec, Ł., Kama, M., Kratter, K., Kounkel, M., Mazur, B., Maud, L., Patel, L., Perez, L., Sadavoy, S. I., Segura-Cox, D., Sharma, R., Stephenson, B., Watson, D. M. & Wyrowski, F., Feb 20 2020, In : Astrophysical Journal. 890, 2, 130.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Does HL Tau disc polarization in ALMA band 3 come from radiatively aligned grains?

    Yang, H., Li, Z. Y., Stephens, I. W., Kataoka, A. & Looney, L., Jan 1 2019, In : Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 483, 2, p. 2371-2381 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Dust Polarization in Four Protoplanetary Disks at 3 mm: Further Evidence of Multiple Origins

    Harrison, R. E., Looney, L. W., Stephens, I. W., Li, Z. Y., Yang, H., Kataoka, A., Harris, R. J., Kwon, W., Muto, T. & Momose, M., May 20 2019, In : Astrophysical Journal Letters. 877, 1, L2.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • FIFI-LS Observations of the Circumnuclear Ring-Probing the High-density Phase of the PDR

    Iserlohe, C., Bryant, A., Krabbe, A., Beckmann, S., Colditz, S., Fischer, C., Fumi, F., Geis, N., Henning, T. K., Hönle, R., Klein, R., Looney, L. W., Poglitsch, A., Raab, W., Rebell, F. & Vacca, W. D., Nov 10 2019, In : Astrophysical Journal. 885, 2, 169.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle