Anil Chandra Seth


I am an assistant professor in the Physics & Astronomy Department at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.  

Research Interests:

I study the formation and evolution of nearby galaxies by detecting individual stars and clusters of stars whose ages, composition, and motions can be measured.  I focus particularly on understanding the centers of galaxies and the black holes and massive star clusters we find there.

My research focuses on the following questions:

  1. 1) Do Lower Mass Galaxies Host Massive Black Holes?

I search for black holes at the centers of nearby low mass galaxies to determine whether they have supermassive black holes like their higher mass brethren.  This search requires cutting edge adaptive optics instrumentation to see the dynamical effect of the black hole on the stars that surround them.  In 2014, I found the lowest mass galaxy known to host a supermassive black hole. The speed of stars in the object are shown at right, the peak in the center indicates the presence of a black hole 21 million times the mass of the sun or 15% of the total mass of the galaxy.  Watch this video or read this article to find out more; here is the original research article.


You can email me at:

where the 'FIlastname' above is aseth

My personal email address is:

Where the 'firstlast' is anilseth

2) How do nuclear star clusters form?

Unlike black holes, which erase any direct record of their formation, the stellar light from nuclear star clusters can tell us how and when material accreted into the centers of galaxies. I’m currently surveying the nearest nuclear star clusters using a wide range of observations, including laser-guide star adaptive optics observations.  These observations provide information on the morphology, kinematics and stellar populations of the nuclear star clusters.  Although much remains to be learned, my observations show that nuclear star clusters are complex systems that form episodically.

Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury Survey

I am also involved in a large study of our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy called the PHAT survey.   This survey is imaging  1/3rd of Andromeda in 6 filters with the Hubble Space Telescope.  I am leading the star cluster research portion of this survey; start clusters are important tools for studying star formation, galaxy formation and stellar evolution.  If you are interested in helping us find clusters in Andromeda, go to the Andromeda Project.  Below is an image showing one of the 1000s of star clusters we are finding in Andromeda to create the largest sample of star clusters known in any galaxy, including our own!