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Research Areas

Computational Astrophysics


  • How does mass transfer occur in interacting binaries? How do magnetic fields affect this process?
  • What is dark matter? How does it affect large-scale structure formation?
  • How did the first galaxies and quasars form and evolve? What are the observational signatures of these first luminous objects?
  • How did the stars and galaxies we know today arise from the initial conditions of the Big Bang, and how did the process of Cosmic Reionization unfold?
  • What are the properties of the supermassive black holes that power the most distant quasars? How did they form at the cosmic dawn?
  • What is the relationships between supermassive black holes and host galaxies?

Discoveries and Milestones

  • Steinn Sigurdsson showed that black holes in dense stellar clusters tend to form segregated sub-clusters and become bound into binaries which then mutually eject each other, leaving most clusters with either zero, one or two black holes, regardless of how many they started with.
  • Yuexing Li has pioneered the numerical modeling of the formation, evolution, and multi-band properties of the most distant galaxies and quasars by combining multi-scale cosmological simulations with multi-wavelength radiative transfer calculations. She has developed essential models of quasar formation, as well as a comprehensive radiative transfer code ART2 ,which has a wide range of applications in modeling both continuum and emission lines from galaxies and quasars.

Current Projects

  • Yuexing Li is conducting computational work to investigate the formation of the first quasars, accretion onto black holes, Lyman-alpha emission from high-redshift galaxies, fossils of the first black holes and galaxies in the Milky Way, and large-scale structure formation.
  • Qirong Zhu and Yuexing Li are studying the co-evolution of massive black holes and host galaxies from cosmic dawn to present day using a set of high-resolution, hydrodynamic cosmological simulations.
  • Shawn Sinawa and Yuexing Li are modeling the observational signatures of the first quasars for JWST and ALMA, using the 3-D radiative transfer code ART2.

Faculty Participants

Yuexing Li
Steinn Sigurdsson