The astrophysics group at
The observers and theorists in the group interact closely,
and many recent student theses have included both theoretical and observational
projects. Most theoretical research is heavily computational, and dynamics
often involves N-body simulations. There are also links to the particle-astrophysics
interests of the
Our observations are carried out in all regions of the spectrum, including
X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, (sub)millimeter and radio wavelengths.
Data are obtained using both ground-based telescopes and space observatories.
The imaging Fabry-Perot interferometer resides at the Cerro-Tololo
Inter-American Observatory in
Graduate students who intend to carry out thesis work in astrophysics are encouraged to follow the astronomy option, which allows them to replace several of their upper division course requirements with astrophysics courses.
Professor Andrew Baker
I study the evolution of galaxies, both as individuals and as populations, using observations of the nearby and distant universe. I make regular use of data acquired at multiple wavelengths from the ultraviolet through the radio, but I focus on the (sub)millimeter bands where we can observe continuum emission from dust grains and rotational line emission from small molecules. These tracers allow us to study the most optically obscured (and often the most interesting!) regions of galaxies. Some current questions of interest: How do extreme environmental conditions affect the process of star formation? What are the demographics, properties, and evolutionary states of dusty, high-redshift “submillimeter galaxies”? How can we use observations to test the assumptions and predictions of galaxy evolution models that are based on the cold dark matter paradigm for structure formation?
Professor Alyson Brooks
I make use of very high resolution, fully cosmological simulations of galaxies in order to interpret observations of galaxy formation and evolution. I am particularly interested in the role that gas and stars play in altering the dark matter structure within galaxies, and the constraints that observations place on our dark matter model. I am also interested in the processes that drive / regulate star formation as a function of time and galaxy mass, and using the Milky Way and its neighbors as a test of our cosmological model.
Professor Matthew Buckley
I study the particle physics of dark matter, both by constructing theoretical models which link dark matter to the Standard Model particles as well as studying the phenomenology of dark matter experiments. To constrain the possible properties of dark matter, I use results from cosmology and astrophysics as well as particle physics experiments (most prominently, the Large Hadron Collider).
Professor Blakesley Burkhart
My research is focused on understanding the nature of magnetic turbulence at all scales in the universe. This includes the solar wind, the diffuse and star-forming interstellar medium (ISM), and the turbulent nature of nearby galaxies. Towards cosmological scales, my research also investigates the effects of turbulence on the hot ionized gas in galaxy clusters and on the diagnostics of the Lyman alpha forest.
Professor Eric Gawiser
I study cosmological structure formation with the dual purposes of understanding the role that physics plays in creating galaxies, stars, and black holes and of using these astrophysical objects to probe fundamental physics. I serve as PI of the MUSYC collaboration, which is determining the star formation rates, stellar masses, ages, dark matter masses, and low-redshift descendants of high-redshift galaxies, including Lyman Alpha Emitters and Lyman Break Galaxies. As a member of the HETDEX and LSST collaborations, I will use the baryon acoustic oscillation scale revealed by the clustering of galaxies and dark matter to determine the equation-of-state of the dark energy. Students are working with me on projects analyzing observational data of high-redshift galaxies, taken at several of the world's largest telescopes, and performing simulations to optimize future surveys with HETDEX, the Dark Energy Camera and LSST.
Professor John P. Hughes
Supernova remnants and clusters of galaxies form the core of my research bailiwick. Although there is much that differs between these two classes of astronomical objects, the electromagnetic radiation they emit, which is largely dominated by high energy thermal emission from hot plasmas, provides a common element. Clusters of galaxies, the largest dynamically organized structures known, are composed mostly of dark matter, with roughly 10% of their mass contained in hot X-ray plasma and only a few percent in optically visible galaxies. I maintain active collaborations with the Deep Lens Survey and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) projects to utilize galaxy clusters for cosmology. From studies of the gaseous remnants of supernova explosions we learn about stellar and explosive nucleosynthesis, the structure and energy content of the interstellar medium, the physics of supersonic shock waves, and the origin of cosmic rays. In recent years my work in this area has grown to include the compact remnants, i.e., neutron stars or black holes, that are sometimes found near the centers of their associated gaseous remnants. My investigations utilize modern resources in the X-ray (Chandra, XMM-Newton, and Suzaku), optical (SALT, HST, NOAO), infrared (Spitzer), millimeter (ACT), and radio (VLA, ATCA) wavebands.
Professor Saurabh Jha
My research focus is observational cosmology, using telescopes on the ground and in space to study exploding stars in galaxies near and far. These "Type Ia supernovae" have proven to be exquisite tools with which to survey the expansion history of the Universe, and they played the central role in the discovery that the cosmic expansion is speeding up. Precise distances from these supernovae have a number of important cosmological applications, and provide a better understanding of the mysterious "dark energy" that drives the accelerating Universe.
Professor Charles Keeton
I use gravitational lensing to study galaxies and cosmology. Strong lens systems provide the only direct probe of dark matter distributions on subgalactic scales, and therefore provide crucial constraints on the fundamental nature of dark matter. The connection between lenses and their environments offers clues about the processes that drive galaxy evolution. Lenses act as natural telescopes that help us to resolve the internal structure of quasars. They are beginning to let us measure supermassive black holes in distant galaxies. In the future, lensing will provide precise tests of general relativity and alternative gravity theories. My work involves a broad array of research methods, from observations (including HST and SALT) to data modeling to numerical theory to formal mathematics.
Professor Terry Matilsky
Most recently, I have become interested in fundamental theories of gravitation. It appears that all of the standard "dark matter" scenarios are significantly flawed, and recent work in string theory has pointed us toward modification of our current ideas concerning gravitational dynamics. I have examined a new idea that postulates an additional interaction in four spatial dimensions that has the potential to solve the dark matter problem, as well as address some fundamental questions in both cosmology and high-energy physics. The most up-to-date paper concerning this can be found at: by clicking on "gravity".
Professor Kristen McQuinnI am interested in understanding the limits of galaxy formation in the universe, how the lowest mass galaxies evolve, and how we can use these galactic structures as tests of our cosmological models. Most of my work is based on observations of low-mass galaxies in the nearby universe where the observations are best and we can make detailed measurements of the physical processes in galaxies including, for example, deriving detailed star formation and chemical evolution histories. I use data from a wide range of telescopes including HST (resolved stars), the VLA (neutral hydrogen), Chandra (hot winds from galaxies), ground-based facilities (gas-phase chemical abundances, warm winds, ionized gas kinematics). In the future, I look forward to using the new NASA flagship telescope JWST and data from the early release science program on resolved stars.
Professor Carlton Pryor
My research interests are centered on observational and theoretical studies
of the structure and evolution of both star clusters and individual galaxies. I
am currently surveying the kinematics, mass distributions, and stellar contents
of the dense centers of globular star clusters, the oldest clusters in our
Galaxy. With the Rutgers Imaging Fabry-Perot Spectrometer in
Professor Rachel SomervilleMy research aims to understand galaxy formation and evolution in a cosmological context using analytic and semi-analytic models and numerical simulations. In addition, I have been involved with many observational surveys and projects. A particular interest over the past decade has been gaining a better understanding of how supermassive black holes form within galaxies and how they affect their galactic hosts.
Professor Sonia Tikoo (Earth and Planetary Sciences)
Revised September, 2019