Image of Karl Gordon

"Have Dust - Will Study"

Karl D. Gordon

I am an Associate Astronomer at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) which I joined in August 2007. I am also a Guest Professor at the Univerity of Ghent since 2011. From 1999-2007 I worked at the Univ. of Arizona as part of the MIPS Instrument Team participating in the full joys of helping build, operate, and use a space instrument. Prior to that I spent 2 years as a postdoc working with Geoff Clayton at Louisiana State University. I received my PhD in 1997 from the Univ. of Toledo where I got my start in interstellar dust research working for Adolf Witt.


My research focuses on interstellar dust in the Milky Way and other galaxies (both near and far). I am both an observer (ultraviolet through submillimeter) and modeler (dusty radiative transfer). My main interest is understanding the nature of interstellar dust grains (size, shape, and composition) and how they change from region to region in our Galaxy and other galaxies. Along the way, I have found myself interested in a number of other topics including binary stars, evolved stars, star formation, spiral structure, and AGN. Basically, my motto at the top of the page says it all - if it has dust, I'll work on it. My interests have gotten me involved in a number of large projects. I am the PI for the SAGE-SMC Spitzer Legacy project and a co-I on a number of other Spitzer Legacies (SINGS, SAGE-LMC, SAGE-Spec, and LVL) and Herschel Key Projects (HERITAGE and KINGFISH). I am also a Spitzer/MIPS Science Team member and an informal member of the JWST/MIRI Science Team.

Here are some results from my research

DIRTY Radiative
Transfer Model
DIRTY image of a bipolar system
Milky Way
Dust Scattering
Properties (a & g)
plot of reflection nebulae albedo values
Pioneer 10/11 Imaging
Photopolarimeter Data
Pioneer 10/11 IPP R image
Magellanic Cloud
IRAS image of both Magellanic Clouds
Magellanic Cloud
Extinction Curves
plot of MC extinction curves
Magellanic Cloud
Dust Parameter Maps
dust mass images of the LMC/SMC
M31 Spitzer/MIPS Images
M31 Spitzer/MIPS images


I try hard to publish the results of my research in a timely fashon, but am usually behind like many astronomers. Check out my papers in refereed journals. I am interested in various statistics on my papers and so you'll find different sortings of my papers (e.g., by date, author rank, # of citations, etc.).

Another method of publications is press releases. I have been involved in a few highlighting Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescope observations.

Research Group

I co-lead a research group focusing on dust and gas in the interstellar medium. This group includes a mix of students, postdocs, and staff. I have many ideas for projects at all levels and am always interested in hearing from students interested in working on dust and star formation in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies (and even galaxies a bit furthur away than that!).

Functional Duties at STScI

I am the MIRI Instrument Branch Scientist at STScI which means I also work as part of a larger team to ensure that the MidInfRared Instrument (MIRI) on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will take and reduce images and spectra correctly. In addition, I lead the JWST Calibration and JWST Absolute Flux Calibration teams that focus on how to reduce and calibrate JWST data from all instruments.


How to contact me.

You can visit the first page I wrote in HTML (many years ago) and which I update and use everyday. It is my page of shortcuts to good stuff on the internet for astronomers.

I play around with the statistics of how astronomers cite others - see my LitFun page.

I am a bit of a photo nut. You can check out many of my photos.

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