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Rene Walterbos

Rene Walterbos
Professor Emeritus
Emeritus Faculty

Contact Info
rwalterb at
AY 204

Expertise: Stellar Populations, Galaxy Morphology, ISM, Star formation




Dr. Walterbos studies the interstellar medium and its interaction with massive stars in disk galaxies using a variety of techniques, including optical and radio imaging and spectroscopy. His research has focused on the low-density diffusely distributed gas that is found in the disks and halos of galaxies. The overall goal is to better understand how the energy input from massive stars shapes and disturbs the interstellar medium in a variety of environments. Other areas include the study of the chemical composition of the interstellar gas, the distribution of gas in the outer disks of spiral galaxies, the kinematics of gas in the halo and disks of galaxies, and the properties of massive stars.

Dr. Walterbos is currently working with two graduate students on a variety of problems concerning the interstellar medium and the dynamics of galaxies. NSF Graduate Fellow Carlos Vargas is studying the kinematics of HI gas in galaxy thick disks and halos, as part of the HALOGAS project. Carlos is also working on a large radio continuum survey of edge-on galaxies as part of the CHANG-ES project to understand the connection between star formation, non-thermal radio halos and magnetic fields, and thermal radio emission in the CHANG-ES galaxy sample. Third-year student Lauren Kahre is studying the massive stellar populations in a large sample of galaxies observed with the Hubble Space Telescope as part of the LEGUS project. Lauren is particularly interested in understanding the source of ionization of HII regions and diffuse ionized gas and in correlating the reddening distribution towards massive stars derived from the HST data, with the distribution of CO and HI gas to study the dust-to-gas ratio across the entire LEGUS sample. Dr. Walterbos is also working on several other papers in his research area, including a review of the ISM properties in the Local Group and completing the publication of several papers with recent PhD recipients Catherine Wu and Maria Patterson. He is also interested in using the MaNGA integral field observations of edge-on spiral galaxies as part of the SDSS-IV survey, to study the properties of their diffuse ionized gas halos.


Recent graduates


Dr. Walterbos has regularly taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses at NMSU. At the undergraduate level these have included introductory classes in Astronomy, the Search for Life in the Universe, and Great Ideas in Science. At the graduate level, Walterbos is now regularly teaching the ASTR 605 course on Interstellar Medium in Galaxies and the ASTR610 course on Radio Astronomy. His favorite approach in undergraduate teaching is to center discussion of material around students’ questions, and to stimulate class participation through panel discussions. In his graduate classes he aims to make direct connections between class room material and applications in astronomical research.

Teaching Fall 2015: ASTR 305V (Search for Life) and ASTR 605 (The Interstellar Medium).

Professional Service

Dr. Walterbos currently serves as the Chair of the Astrophysical Research Consortium. He is also member of the Executive Committee of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and has been appointed by the National Science Foundation as the Chair of the Board for the Gemini Observatory for a 2-yr term starting in 2016.


Selected recent publications

Legacy Extragalactic UV Survey (LEGUS) with the Hubble Space Telescope. I. Survey Description
Calzetti, D., Lee, J.C.; and the LEGUS Team including Walterbos, R.A.M., 2015 AJ 149, 51

Investigating Disk-halo Flows and Accretion: A Kinematic and Morphological Analysis of Extraplanar HI in NGC 3044 and NGC 4302
Zschaechner, Laura K., Rand, Richard J., & Walterbos, Rene A.M., 2015 ApJ 799, 61

HALOGAS Observations of NGC 4414: fountains, interaction, and ram pressure
de Blok, W.J.G., Jozsa, G.I.G., Patterson, M., Gentile, G., Heald, G.H., Juette, E., Kamphuis, P., Rand, R.J., Serra, P., & Walterbos, R.A.M., 2014, A&A, 566, 80

Link to all papers: Link to ADS publications