Faculty & Staff

Alma Zook

Professor of Astronomy

  • Phone (909) 621-8723
  • Email azook@pomona.edu
  • Office Millikan 1279
  • Research Interests Observational Extragalactic Astronomy, Acoustics

My primary area of research deals with blazars, essentially a very active subgroup of quasars. (Quasars are very distant, very energetic objects thought to be powered by large black holes at the centers of young galaxies.) Currently I am working on theoretical models of the multiwavelength spectra of these objects, from radio to gamma-ray wavelengths, but I have also observed them at submillimeter wavelengths and mapped them in the radio using VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry.) When the infrared camera is completed for the College's 1-meter telescope at Table Mountain, I plan to begin a program monitoring these objects in the infrared.

The experiment in the photograph deals with the phenomenon of two-wave mixing in lithium niobate (LiNb3), a nonlinear optical crystal. The crystal, in effect, allows us to generate real-time holograms, although only very slowly. The nonlinear optics lab also has a barium titanate (BaTiO3) crystal which phase-conjugates an optical wave front, a phenomenon which mathematically looks like moving backwards in time (but of course is not quite so exotic in real life).

Another area of research interest deals with the physical nature of "good" musical tone quality in wind instruments. This area of research is an outgrowth of another interest of mine, playing the oboe and English horn in both the Pomona College Symphony Orchestra and the Pomona College Concert Band."