ESA press release for CGM-MASS team


Today the European Space Agency (ESA) issued a press release (here) discussing results from our recent paper, in which we use the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory to measure the mass of hot, X-ray emitting gas surrounding local galaxies. The paper has important implications for the search for the “normal” matter in the Universe!

Diverse alpha-enhancement in galaxy discs

Today we posted to the arXiv a new paper, in which we use EAGLE to examine the origin of spreads (or even bimodality) in the alpha-element abundances of disc stars, as is observed in the Milky Way. We conclude that such abundance patterns are uncommon, implying that in this respect the Milky Way is not representative of similarly-massive disc galaxies. The simulations indicate that the unusual abundances are likely a consequence of the Milky Way’s dark matter halo having formed quickly, early on cosmic history.

RS Fellows Enhancement Award


I’m grateful to the Royal Society for today awarding me an “Enhancement Award” to supplement my University Research Fellowship. This funding will be used to upgrade the ARI’s high performance computing facility with high performance interconnect, dramatically increasing the flexibility of the machine and enabling further development of simulations for the E-MOSAICS, ECO and BAHAMAS suites that are led by the computational galaxy formation group.

Science Museum Lates exhibition

Yesterday, my colleague Jim Geach and I had the privilege to present our research to the public at the Science Museum in London, as part of their “Lates” themed evenings. This was a particularly special Lates event, as its purpose was to launch the Tomorrow’s World online platform, a collaboration between the Science Museum, the BBC, the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust. The event attracted nearly 5000 members of the public, many of whom visited our exhibition to see visualisations of numerical models of galaxy evolution, and discuss our science with us. The move we presented is available to view here.

Simulations @ Tate Liverpool

The ARI is currently running The Astrophysics Exchange, an exhibit at Tate Liverpool. Jim Geach and I have contributed renderings of astrophyics simulations to the exhibit, which look great in the gallery’s space. It was a privilege to be in the same exhibition hall as a Picasso! I highly recommend heading over to the gallery if you have the chance, as world famous work by Tracy Emin and William Blake are also currently on display.


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HST cycle 25 theory grant

Delighted that our theory proposal in Hubble Space Telescope cycle-25 has been funded with $125,000. The proposal will enable our team – from LJMU, CU Boulder (US), Leiden Observatory (Netherlands) and Northwestern University (US) – to create and analyse new simulations in support of HST observational programs that probe the circumgalactic medium with quasar sightlines.


Merseyside Astronomy Day

This week it was a pleasure to speak at Merseyside Astronomy Day, sponsored by the ARI’s distance learning programme, and hosted by Liverpool’s World Museum. Nearly 100 members of the public attended to hear from four professional astronomers about their research, and it was a lot of fun to chat to them. There were some very perceptive questions in the Q&A session!

Many thanks to the ARI’s Andy Newsam and David Hyder for their hard work setting up an enjoyable day.

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Thanks to @Spyder_Webb for the photo.