Jenna Samuel awarded NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship

Jenna Samuel

Jenna Samuel, our group’s first graduating PhD student, has been awarded an NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Science Foundation! Jenna will take this fellowship to the Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas, Austin this fall to pursue her project: Modeling the physics of gas removal and quenching in Local Group satellite galaxies with next-generation simulations. Congratulations Jenna!

NASA Astrophysics Theory Program (ATP) grant: dark-matter subhalos and stellar streams

NASA’s Astrophysics Theory Program (ATP) has awarded our team (PI Robyn Sanderson, co-PI Andrew Wetzel) a grant for Predicting observable signatures for dynamical interactions between dark-matter substructure and stellar streams in the Milky WayCongratulations to Robyn Sanderson, who led this grant!

The wealth of ongoing and upcoming observations of the Milky Way promise an era of ‘near-field cosmology’ to test the cold dark matter (CDM) paradigm. One of the most exciting and powerful probes of dark matter is using the Milky Way’s stellar streams as ‘gravitational antennae’, as close passages of small dark-matter subhalos dynamically perturb cold stellar streams, allowing us to test the diverging predictions of different dark-matter models for the low-mass end of the (sub)halo mass function. Our goal with this grant is to use our Latte suite of FIRE-2 simulations of Milky Way-like galaxies to model the dynamics of dark-matter subhalo interactions with stellar streams from disrupted globular clusters and satellite galaxies in realistic detail, including creating synthetic observations of these simulated perturbed streams. Our goal is to provide the first comprehensive end-to-end study that connects cosmological predictions from baryonic simulations to interpretations of, and predictions for, observable perturbations from dark-matter subhalos on stellar streams.

Sarah Loebman to start as assistant professor at UC Merced

Sarah Loebman

We are so excited that Sarah Loebman has accepted a faculty position at the University of California, Merced, where she will start as an assistant professor in their Department of Physics in fall 2020! We are doubly excited because, as one of their two inaugural astrophysics faculty, Sarah will start a new astrophysics program within their department. Fortunately for us, she will stay with our group at UC Davis for another year to finish her NASA Hubble Fellowship and Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship. Congratulations Sarah!!

Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Treasury Program: M31-6D survey

Space Telescope Science Institute has awarded our team

  • PI  Dan Weiz
  • co-PI  Nitya Kallivayalil
  • co-PI  Andrew Wetzel
  • co-investigators:  Jay Anderson, Gurtina Besla, Mike Boylan-Kolchin, Tom Brown, James Bullock, Andrew Cole, Michelle Collins, Mike Cooper, Alis Deason, Andrew Dolphin, Aaron Dotter, Mark Fardal, Annette Ferguson, Tobias Fritz, Marla Geha, Karoline Gilbert, Raja Guhathakurta, Rodrigo Ibata, Michael Irwin, Myoungwon Jeon, Evan Kirby, Geraint Lewis, Dougal Mackey, Steve Majewski, Nicholas Martin, Alan McConnachie, Ekta Patel, Mike Rich, Josh Simon, Evan Skillman, Tony Sohn, Erik Tollerud, Roeland van der Marel

a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Treasury Program of 244 orbits for Tracing the 6-D Orbital and Formation History of the Complete M31 Satellite SystemThese Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations will provide the initial baselines for long-term proper-motion measurements for all of the known satellite galaxies around Andromeda (M31). Our goal is to measure the orbital motions of these satellites as they move across the sky over the next ~10 years, to complete their full 6-dimensional orbital phase-space. Our key science goals are to:

  • Understand the effect of environment on low-mass galaxy evolution
  • Use low-mass galaxies as probes of the epoch of reionization
  • Dynamically measure the mass distribution of M31’s dark-matter halo
  • Test planar associations of satellite galaxies

Combined with our existing HST Treasury Program to measure proper motions for all of the satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, we will provide proper motions for all known satellite galaxies across the Local Group.

Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Legacy Theory grant: low-mass galaxies and reionization

Space Telescope Science Institute has awarded our team

a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Legacy Theory grant for Probing the epoch of reionization with the fossil record of nearby dwarf galaxies. Our goal is to use our FIRE-2 simulations to rigorously test and characterize how well HST near-field observations of the star-formation histories of low-mass galaxies in the Local Group can measure the faint end of the galaxy ultra-violet luminosity function during the epoch of reionization at z ~ 7. Furthermore, we will create synthetic HST and JWST observations of these simulated galaxies, to quantify how accurately the SFHs from measured stellar populations in nearby low-mass galaxies can infer their star formation rates and UV luminosities at z ~ 7, and we will release these synthetic observations and simulation data to the scientific community, to help leverage existing HST data and guide upcoming JWST observations.