A brief flavour of my current research projects. As is traditional for astronomers, these pages are almost certainly out of date and incomplete — the best gauge of my current activities being NASA ADS.
The EAGLE simulations
The Evolution of GaLaxies and their Environments project is a flagship programme of state-of-the-art, cosmological hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation, conducted by the Virgo Consortium. The introductory reference studies were published in early 2015. The EAGLE simulations are the first numerical models to accurately reproduce the key properties of the present-day galaxy population, the hot gas associated with galaxy groups, and the column density distribution of intergalactic neutral hydrogen. This marks a major advance in the capabilities of cosmological simulations, and enables the detailed examination of many astrophysical processes that were hitherto the preserve of simplified semi-analytic models.
For more information please see my EAGLE page.
The E:MOSAICS simulations
The EAGLE: MOdelling Star cluster system Assembly In Cosmological Simulations project is led by Dr. Joel Pfeffer, Prof. Nate Bastian and I at LJMU, in collaboration with Dr. Diederik Kruijssen (University of Heidelberg).
The confrontation of models of globular cluster (GC) evolution with observational data indicate that GCs cannot be considered as isolated systems. The environments in which they are born appear to markedly impact upon their formation properties, whilst their tidal interactions with their environments over many billion of years govern the rate at which they are disrupted and disperse their stars into the field population. Simple models neglecting either (or both of) i) the gaseous properties of the galaxies in which GCs form and ii) the cosmological evolution of the galaxy, are therefore incapable of reproducing realistic GC populations. We are therefore combining the realistic galaxy population of EAGLE and the state-of-the-art semi-analytic GC formation and evolution models of Kruijssen et al. to realise the first simulations of the formation and tidal disruption of globular clusters in fully cosmological, hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation.
The QSAGE survey
Quasar Sightline And Galaxy Evolution is a major new Hubble Space Telescope survey of distant galaxies and the gas around them – the circumgalactic medium (CGM). The primary aim of QSAGE is to understand how feedback processes – such as supernovae and supermassive black holes – influence the CGM and ultimately regulate the formation of new stars in galaxies. Owing to the finite speed of light, the 1200 galaxies targeted by QSAGE are seen as they were 7-10 billion years ago, the time when the rate of star formation in the Universe began to markedly decline from its peak. This is the epoch at which we believe feedback processes most strongly influenced galaxy growth. HST began work on our survey in the autumn of 2016.
The GIMIC simulations
The Galaxies-Intergalactic Medium Interaction Calculation project was EAGLE’s predecessor as the Virgo Consortium’s flagship programme of hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation. GIMIC focussed on environmentally diverse regions identified within the Millennium Simulation, and the lead article was published early in 2009. Now superseded, GIMIC fostered over 20 publications in high impact journals, with a wide range of science applications. In particular, GIMIC’s unique initial conditions enabled studies of the effects of cosmological environment on the properties of the galaxy population, whilst its ability to populate ‘typical’ dark matter haloes with stellar masses that are compatible with observational measurements made it a crucial testbed for studies of galaxy formation, the assembly of stellar haloes, and the properties of the hot, diffuse circumgalactic medium.
For more information please see my GIMIC page.