Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Dr. Ronald J. Wilhelm


Moving groups are associations of stars which originated from the same star forming region. These groups are typically young (< 200 Myr) since they have not dissipated into the galactic field population. Over the last 15 years, roughly 10 such moving groups have been found with distances < 150 pc (7 with distances < 100 pc), each with a unique velocity and position.

This work first investigates the likelihood to resolve star from two moving groups (AB Doradus and Beta Pictoris) using high spacial resolution optical interferrometry and found 5 AB Doradus stars and 1 Beta Pictoris star with declinations > -30 could be spacially resolved.

To more deeply characterize individual groups, we used the 2.7m telescope at the McDonald Observatory to observe 10 proposed AB Doradus stars and 5 proposed Octans-Near stars (3 probable members, 2 possible) with high resolution (R ~60,000) optical spectroscopy. Each group is characterized in three ways: (1) Chemical analysis to determine the homogeneity among members, (2) Kinematic traceback to determine the origin, and (3) Isochrone fitting to determine the age. We find the 8 stars in our AB Doradus sample are chemically homogeneous with [M/H] = -0.03 ± 0.06 dex, traceback to an age of 125 Myr, and the stars in this mass range are on the main sequence. The two deviants are a metal rich, potentially younger member and a metal poor, young star likely not associated with AB Doradus.

In our Octans-Near sample, we find the 3 probable members have [M/H] = -0.06 ± 0.11, the stars do not trace back to a common origin, and the probable members are on the main sequence. In addition to these tests, we found that the probable members are slightly more lithium depleted than the Pleiades, implying an age between 125 and 200 Myr.

Finally, we investigate systematic trends in fundamental stellar parameters from the use of different techniques. Preliminary results find differences in temperatures between interferrometric and spectroscopic techniques to be a function of temperature with a interferrometric temperatures being cooler by an average of 36 ± 115 K. We also calculated the chemical abundances as a function of condensation temperature for our moving group sample and predict 2 stars in AB Doradus could represent the initial star forming environment and discuss the implications for planet hosting stars in nearby moving groups.

This updated characterization technique allows for a deeper understanding of the moving group environment. As future, high precision instruments emerge in astronomy (Jame Webb Space Telescope, GAIA, 30m class telescopes), moving groups are ideal targets since these associations will help us understand star forming regions, stellar evolution at young ages, constrain stellar evolutionary models, and identify planetary formation and evolution mechanisms.