Sandra Faber’s research focuses on the formation and evolution of galaxies and the evolution of structure in the universe. She utilizes ground-based optical data obtained with the Lick 3-meter and Keck 10-meter telescopes; she also has several projects on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). She does most of her work with graduate students and has several ongoing collaborations with former students which have lasted many years.
Currently she is concentrating in three areas. A project is nearly complete to measure the large-scale peculiar motion of local galaxies and make comparisons to density maps from IRAS and optical galaxy catalogs. The aim is to measure the total mass-density of the universe. Related to this is a long-term project on the mass-to-light ratios and stellar populations of elliptical galaxies. This work has culminated in methods to disentangle age and metallicity for stars in elliptical galaxies, with the result that many elliptical stellar populations are found to be surprisingly young. Faber is planning to hunt for the presence of such galaxies using lookback studies of distant clusters with the Keck Telescope.
Faber is a member of the Wide-Field Camera (I) Team of HST. With team members (including three former students), she is studying stellar populations in nearby globular clusters, elliptical galaxies, and distant clusters of galaxies. She also leads a group of scientists searching for nuclear black holes in using HST FOS (Faint Object Spectrograph) spectroscopy.
With David Koo, Faber is involved in the DEIMOS (Deep-Imaging Multiobject Spectrograph) Project. This is a high-throughput spectrograph for Keck that would increase its power on distant galaxies by over a factor of ten. Students will have the opportunity to become involved in the building of this spectrograph and in observations at the Keck Telescope.