Elisabeth A.C. Mills Group
Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer Galactic Center



September 2022: Collaborative NSF grant awarded to fund ACES

May 2022: JACKS selected for observation in VLA Semester 22B

January 2022: Professor Mills joins PRIMA team as a co-I

July 2021: ACES selected as an ALMA Large Program

June 2020: Professor Mills is a Plenary Speaker at AAS

Professor Mills was awarded a $1.1 million NSF grant with co-PIs at UConn, Florida, CU-Boulder and SAO to support ACES science.
JACKS selected for observation in the 22B semester! Professor Mills is PI of this 110 hour A-ranked VLA project to map ammonia and radio continuum emission in the central 1.5 degrees of the Milky Way at arcsecond resolution.
Professor Mills has joined the PRobe far-Infrared Mission for Astrophysics (PRIMA) team as a co-I. PRIMA will compete for a planned launch date in the coming decade. Find out more on our webpage and social media!
ALMA Large project ACES (ALMA CMZ Exploration Survey) is underway! Professor Mills is co-PI of this project which will map gas flows and star formation with unprecedented detail across the entire Milky Way center.
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

About Us

Nearby Galaxies Lab

Our group studies the physics and chemistry of gas in the most extreme environments in the nearby universe. We specialize in radio, millimeter, and infrared spectroscopy of galaxy centers, starbursts, and active supermassive black holes. We are committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination and harassment.

Code of Conduct

Current Group Members


Dr. Elisabeth (Betsy) Mills


Xinyu Mai


Ashley Lieber


Keaton Donaghue

Group Leader (current CV)

Github: eacmills

Graduate Researcher

Github: xymaiii

Graduate Researcher

Github: aelieber1

Undergraduate Researcher

Alumni and Associates


Jennifer Wallace


J. Andrew Casey-Clyde


Tierra Candelaria


Jonathan Barnes

Graduate Researcher (UConn)

Graduate Researcher (UConn)

Graduate Researcher (NMT)

Graduate Researcher (Howard U.)


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