You are here:

AstroNOMY and Astrophysics

Our astronomy and astrophysics faculty members carry out exciting research on the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics. We work on the nature of dark matter, the large scale structure and expansion rate of the Universe, the relation of galaxies to their dark matter halos, the energetics of galaxy clusters, the history of the Milky Way and nearby galaxies, the demographics of massive black holes, the Milky Way’s interstellar medium, the astrophysics of compact objects, the sources of the highest energy photons, and the formation of planetary systems.
 
The University of Utah is a key contributor to cutting-edge survey science. Faculty play leadership roles in the DESI survey and the SDSS-IV and -V surveys, with the University being a full institutional member and data repository of SDSS. Our faculty, postdocs, and students also use a wide range of world-class facilities in their research, including ALMA, HST, Gemini, VLT, Chandra, NuSTAR, and XMM, and are involved in gamma-ray telescopes VERITAS, HAWC, and CTA. Analysis and simulations are performed at the University’s Center for High Performance Computing. We also run a high impact astronomy outreach program and participate in efforts to preserve Utah's unparalleled dark skies. Our faculty are committed to training a talented and diverse group of students and postdocs. 
 

Learn more about the Astro Group...  

High Energy Astrophysics

Astrophysicists study celestial bodies such as stars and galaxies by observing their light emissions and particles. These two fields operate on very different scales: one deals with subatomic particles, the other with the Universe at large. Yet they intertwine when addressing some of our most profound scientific questions, such as "What is the origin fate of the universe?" and "What is the nature of dark energy that drives the accelerating expansion of the universe?"

Researchers at the University of Utah’s Department of Physics and Astronomy are carrying out large-scale computer calculations to recreate the conditions of the quark-gluon plasma. We are able to study the formation of protons and neutrons as the Universe cooled. Such information is vital to our understanding of how the Universe came into being.


Astro Group Faculty 

Listed alphabetically by last name.

Ben Bromley

Ben Bromley  

Ben's research is on planet formation, with recent emphasis on planets in our solar system. He also has interest in the fastest stars in our Galaxy, their enigmatic origin, and what they can tell us about the overall structure of the Milky Way. Ben works in these and other areas of astrophysics with the help of parallel supercomputers for dynamical simulation and data mining.

Joel Brownstein

Joel Brownstein

Joel seeks to understand dark matter, currently by discovering new strong galaxy-galaxy lenses.  His current role as the SDSS-IV archive scientist, and new role as the SDSS-V principal data scientist, put him at the center of the U’s effort to manage the Survey's data systems, which provides his research a tremendously useful data set. 

 

Tabitha Buehler

Tabitha Buehler

Tabitha is currently working to study and implement best teaching practices in physics and astronomy courses. She works with the AstronomUrs program to engage the public in outreach activities and informal education.

 

Kyle Dawson

Kyle Dawson

Kyle studies the origins of cosmic acceleration and the cosmological model by observing how galaxies cluster together over scales of hundreds of millions of light years. He currently uses spectroscopic observations from the Extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS) and will soon use the spectroscopic observations from the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI).

Anil Seth

Anil Seth 

Anil studies how galaxies form by focusing on the nearest galaxies where we can see individual stars and star clusters. His current focus is understanding the massive star clusters and black holes that form at the centers of galaxies. His work uses the Hubble Space Telescope large ground-based optical infrared telescopes. 

Daniel Wik

Daniel Wik

X-ray astronomy; galaxy clusters; galaxies; black holes; cosmology

Gail Zasowski

Gail Zasowski

Gail is a "Galactic archeologist," using the stars and interstellar medium of our home Milky Way Galaxy to understand how it formed and has evolved over the lifetime of the Universe.  She works to bridge the gap between how we study the Milky Way and the billions of more distant galaxies.  She is also the spokesperson for the next generation of the SDSS.

Zheng Zheng

Zheng Zheng

Zheng is an observationally oriented theorist and his main research interests are in galaxy formation and cosmology. He studies the large-scale structure in the universe probed by galaxies from large galaxy surveys to learn about the relationship between galaxies and dark matter, galaxy formation and evolution, and cosmology. He works on using the Lyman-alpha emission from high-redshift star-forming galaxies to probe galaxy environment and cosmic reionization. He also has broad interests in other fields of astronomy and astrophysics. 
 

 

 

 High Energy Astrophysics Faculty

Udara Abeysekara

Anushka Abeysekara

Anushka is studying the most extreme environments in the Universe--such as gamma-ray emitting supernova remnants, pulsar wind nebulae, and active galactic nuclei that accelerate particles to speeds near the speed of light. These particles emit very-high-energy gamma-rays as they interact with the surrounding medium. Using HAWC and VERITAS gamma-ray observatories, he measures these gamma-rays and investigate questions such as, how these particles are moving away from the central engine, what fraction of the particles reach earth, and what is the nature of the medium between Earth and these objects.

Paolo Gondolo

Paolo Gondolo

Cosmology, astrophysics, high energy physics.

Dave Kieda

Dave Kieda

Dave's research focuses on the exploration of the fundamental forces in physics through the measurement of astrophysical objects in extreme settings. He develops techniques and performs observations in high energy gamma-ray astronomy to explore particle acceleration in Galactic objects, such as supernova remnants, microquasars and high mass x-ray binaries, and active galactic nuclei. He also is leading an effort to develop a new capability for ultra-high angular resolution (< 40 microarc-second) optical imaging of nearby stars using the quantum properties of light. His experimental observations use the ground-based VERITAS, HAWC , CTA, and StarBase-Utah observatories as well as the FERMI, Swift and NuStar satellite observatories.  

Stephan LeBohec

Stephan LeBohec

Stephan studies the possible implications of extending relativity to resolution scale transformations. He also participates in the redevelopment of intensity interferometry for astrophysical observations. Recently he started working on the mechanical and thermal noise characterization of mirrors used in gravitational wave detectors.

Pearl Sandick

Pearl Sandick

Pearl studies high energy phenomenology; particle astrophysics; cosmology. Her specialties include dark matter, supersymmetry, and other physics beyond the Standard Model.

 Wayne Springer

Wayne Springer

Wayne specializes in developing and using instruments to observe the Cosmos. He has investigated the Z boson and searched for the Higgs boson at CERN and has studied ultra-high energy cosmic rays with the HiRes and Telescope Array cosmic ray observatories in the west desert of Utah. He is currently using the HAWC observatory located on a Mexican volcano to study TeV gamma and cosmic rays from astrophysical sources and to search for Dark Matter.

 Yue Zhao

Yue Zhao

Yue's research interests are in new physics beyond the standard model. He has been working on several different methods in order to explore new physics. He is very interested in developing novel experimental ideas for new physics, including utilizing recent advances in precision measurement techniques. He is also interested in exploring the possibility of extending the purposes of existing experiments, such as LIGO and DUNE, to look for new physics. The new field of gravitational wave astronomy is particularly exciting to him, and studying new physics through gravitational wave will be one of his main focuses in the future.

Last Updated: 7/1/19