Elisabeth A.C. Mills
Spitzer Galactic Center

The Galactic Center And Beyond...


Professor Mills gave a plenary talk at the 236th meeting of the AAS, which was held virtually June 1-3, 2020. A recording of the talk can be found here. You can also view the talk slides and a transcript of the talk here

AAS 236 Plenary Talk Monday, June 1, 2020 at 4:30 PM EDT

Nearby Galaxies Lab

Mills Group

University of Kansas

Code of Conduct

Studying the physics and chemistry of gas in the most extreme environments in the nearby universe. Specializing in radio, millimeter, and infrared spectroscopy of galaxy centers, starbursts, and active supermassive black holes. Committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination and harassment. Interested in joining? Contact us!

Current Group Members


Dr. Elisabeth (Betsy) Mills

Group Leader (current CV)


Kurt Hamblin

Graduate Researcher


Jennifer Wallace

Graduate Researcher (UConn)


Riley Weller

Summer Undergraduate Researcher

Katelin Waters

Summer Undergraduate Researcher

Anna Davidson

Summer Undergraduate Researcher

Maxine Case

Summer Undergraduate Researcher

Garrett Crossnoe

Summer Undergraduate Researcher

Former Group Members


J. Andrew Casey-Clyde

Graduate Researcher (UConn)


Tierra Candelaria

Graduate Researcher (NMT)


Aspen Clements

Graduate Researcher (UVa)


Jonathan Barnes

Graduate Researcher (Howard U.)

Research Projects

Our research focuses on studying the properties of the gas in the center of our galaxy and other nearby galaxies. We observe spectral lines from a range of molecules and try to figure out how much gas is present, where it is located, how it is moving, and its temperature, density, and chemical composition. We work to answer questions like how black holes are fed and grow, how galaxies shut off star formation through feedback, and how unique gas properties in galaxy centers impact the physics of these processes. Our work is done primarily with ground-based telescopes, especially radio and millimeter interferometers like the VLA and ALMA.

VLA images of molecular gas

Interstellar Medium

Astrochemistry: The abundance, formation, and distribution of molecules, and the reactions that take place in interstellar gas

Molecular Excitation:Using the quantum properties of molecules for remote sensing of gas temperatures, densities, and radiation fields

Radiative Transfer:Computational models that follow the emission and absorption of photons in interstellar gas, and calculate observed properties of spectral lines

FORCAST Galactic Center Legacy Survey

The Galactic Center

The Central Molecular Zone: Inner 300 parsecs of the Milky Way, and the home of unusually hot, dense, turbulent, and chemically-rich molecular gas

The Circumnuclear Disk:Like a torus, but without an active galactic nucleus inside of it, this 3 parsec-wide structure is the closest that molecular gas gets to the black hole

Sgr A*: The Milky Way Galaxy's central (and inactive) supermassive black hole, weighing 4 million times as much as the Sun

Nearby Seyfert galaxy Circinus

Nearby Galaxies

NGC 253: A barred spiral galaxy located 3.5 Mpc away, with a massive molecular outflow from a nuclear starburst producing 30x more new stars than the Milky Way center

NGC 4945: A nearby (3.8 Mpc) Seyfert galaxy with both an active black hole and a starburst at its center

Circinus: A spiral galaxy at a distance of 4.2 Mpc from the Milky Way, hosting an active black hole that is believed to be the driving source of a molecular outflow, as there is no central starburst


Elisabeth A.C. Mills

Assistant Professor

Department of Physics and Astronomy

University of Kansas

1251 Wescoe Hall Dr. Lawrence, KS 66045

Office: 2058B Malott Hall

Phone: 785.864.1778

E-mail: eacmills@ku.edu