Ronald J. Buta

Professor Emeritus


Professor Buta’s research concerns the morphology and dynamics of barred and oval disk galaxies. He is particularly interested in the evolution of such galaxies and the role the bar plays in generating structure. His research has focused most intensively on those barred galaxies that show ring features in the morphology, since these rings can be linked to specific orbital resonances in the disk plane. Through their locations and kinematics, rings provide information on the bar pattern speed, one of the fundamental unknowns of galactic dynamics. For the most part, Professor Buta’s approach has been observational, and he has used data obtained in ultraviolet, optical, near-infrared, and 21-cm radio wave bands for studying galaxies. He has also conducted numerical simulations of several well-observed nearby barred galaxies, using near-infrared images to define the gravitational potential. Most recently, Professor Buta obtained optical and ultraviolet imaging of starburst nuclear rings in two barred galaxies with the Hubble Space Telescope. These studies provide important information on dust, star formation, and structure in the vicinity of the likely inner Lindblad resonance in these galaxies.

Professor Buta is also interested in the local density of matter and has been carrying out basic studies of galaxies in the “Zone of Avoidance,” where dust in the plane of the Milky Way seriously obscures the light of even nearby galaxies. He has completed a detailed photometric study of the nearby heavily obscured IC 342/Maffei Group, a group of 15 galaxies that may be only 2.5 megaparsecs from the Milky Way. Other interests related to this study are the extragalactic distance scale and the basic cataloging of galaxies. Professor Buta was involved in the production of the Third Reference Catalogue of Bright Galaxies.

Professor Buta received his doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1984. He joined the faculty of The University of Alabama in 1989.