Laura Kay

Professor of Physics & Astronomy

Laura E. Kay joined the Barnard faculty in 1991. In addition to teaching Astronomy, Dr. Kay is also affiliated with the Department of Women's Studies.

Professor Kay is an astronomer who has a particular interest in the study of active galactic nuclei through spectropolarimetry, a technique that permits simultaneous observation of both the spectra and the polarization of an astronomical object. By identifying regions of polarized light, spectropolarimetry yields information about the kinematics, geometry, and spatial distribution of gas and/or dust in an extended object, and about the continuum emission processes. Professor Kay also uses x-ray data to study orientation and obscuration effects in active galactic nuclei.

Professor Kay has traveled to Antarctica, Brazil, and Chile in connection with her research projects.

Professor Kay's teaches courses such as "Life in the Universe," "Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology," "Women and Science," and "Exploring the Poles."

Professor Kay has served as the Principal Investigator of an NSF CAREER grant in astronomy, and on an NSF/AAC&U grant, "Women and Scientific Literacy," which brought together faculties in science departments and women's studies programs to engage in dialog about issues of women in the sciences.

She has recently served as guest editor for a special issue of the Barnard Center for Research on Women Web journal The Scholar & Feminist Online on "Gender on Ice" for the International Polar Year.

Selected Publications

"Transient and Highly Polarized Double-Peaked H-alpha Emission in the Seyfert 2 Nucleus of NGC 2110," with E. C. Moran, A. J. Barth, and M. Eracleous, Astrophysical Journal Vol. 668, L000 (2007).

"'Hidden' Seyfert 2 Galaxies in the Chandra Deep Field North" with C. Cardomone, E. C. Moran, The Astronomical Journal, Vol. 134, Issue 3, (2007): 1263–1275.

"Ultraviolet Imaging Polarimetry of the Seyfert 2 Galaxy Markarian 3," with M. Kishimoto, R. Antonucci, T. Hurt, R. Cohen, and J. Krolik. The Astrophysical Journal Vol. 565, Issue 1, (2002): 155–162.

"The Frequency of Polarized Broad Emission Lines in Type 2 Seyfert Galaxies," with E. C. Moran, A. J. Barth, and A. V. Filippenko, The Astrophysical Journal Vol. 540, Issue 2, (2000): L73–L77.

"Spectropolarimetry of the Luminous Narrow-Line Seyfert Galaxies IRAS20181-2244 and IRAS 13224-3809," with M. Magalhães, F. Elizalde, and C. Rodrigues, The Astrophysical Journal Vol. 518, Issue 1, (1999): 219-225.

"A Hidden Broad-Line Region in the Weak Seyfert 2 Galaxy NGC 788," with E. Moran, The Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Vol. 110, Issue 751, (1998): 110, 1003.

"Blue Spectropolarimetry of Seyfert 2 Galaxies,'' The Astrophysical Journal, Part 1, Vol. 430, No. 1, (1994): 196–209.

Academic Focus: 

Active galaxies
Women and science
Polar regions

Awards & Honors: 
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Office Hours: 

BS, AB Stanford University (Physics and Feminist Studies)
MS, PhD, University of California - Santa Cruz (Astronomy and Astrophysics)

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