Scientist to visit UT Nov. 19 to talk about galaxy formation

November 18, 2015 | Events, UToday, Natural Sciences and Mathematics
By Lindsay Mahaney

Space: the final frontier — it’s a terrain many scientists dedicate their careers to exploring, including a speaker visiting The University of Toledo this week.

Dr. Rachel Somerville, Downsbrough Chair in Astrophysics at Rutgers University, will present “The Intertwined Evolution of Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes in the Double Dark Universe” at UT’s McMaster Cosmology Colloquium Thursday, Nov. 19, at 4 p.m. in McMaster Hall Room 1005.



Somerville’s research focuses on galaxy formation and evolution, active galactic nuclei and cosmology, and large-scale structures, which she will be relaying in her presentation.

Because the universe was so crowded when it was younger, galaxies often merged together, explained Dr. Rupali Chandar, UT associate professor of astronomy.

Somerville is one of the leading researchers using computer simulations to create models predicting what those mergers and interactions would have looked like. These models help astronomers make sense of what they see when the Hubble Space Telescope and other telescopes depict images of distant space and reveal how galaxies took shape in a young universe.

“We’re going to see a world expert talk about the growth of galaxies and black holes starting in the early universe, and learn a bit about her theoretical research for how they formed and changed over time,” Chandar said.

In addition to being a leading researcher, Somerville is distinctive because of her gender, which is part of the reason Chandar invited her to speak.

“There are not that many women in the competitive world of theoretical cosmology,” Chandar said.

The free, public event is named in honor of the late Harold McMaster, a UT Physics and Astronomy Department benefactor and local entrepreneur who helped found the glass and photovoltaic industries in Toledo, and had a passion for contemplating the origins of the universe.

Weekly Physics and Astronomy colloquia will continue throughout the academic year. A full list of speakers is available here.

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