The overall aim of Université Laval Professor Carmelle Robert’s research program is to better describe the processes involved in star formation and their impact on galaxy evolution. Starbursts are a key focus of her work. These are sudden, violent outbursts of star formation that last only a few million years. They are found throughout the Universe, and represent an important phase in the evolution of galaxies.
The characteristics of stellar populations in star-forming outbursts are described using an ultraviolet spectral synthesis code. The massive stars present in large numbers in star-forming outbursts have intense stellar winds responsible for broad, strong spectral lines in the ultraviolet range. The detailed study of these lines makes it possible to estimate the age of a starburst and its chemical abundance, and to describe the mode of star formation. Analysis of the old generations of stars that preceded the outburst phase of star formation is also an integral part of Carmelle Robert’s research project. Using visible data of very high spatial resolution, it is possible to describe old populations, locate them in relation to outbursts and ultimately reconstruct the evolutionary history of a galaxy. For a sample of galaxies with different physical properties (bar, interaction, active core…), Carmelle Robert obtains new constraints on the processes influencing star formation and galaxy evolution.