Andrew Benson

Simulations of Galaxy Formation and Evolution

Galaxies Andrew Benson picture

My research focuses on modeling the formation and evolution of galaxies using a combination of semi-analytic methods and N-body simulations (see The primary aim is to develop a detailed and, most importantly, quantitative model of galaxy formation based upon known physical laws rather than empirical rules. Our empirical knowledge of galaxy formation is rapidly becoming quantitatively precise, and so has the potential to strongly discriminate between theories of the formation and evolution of galaxies. In particular, the high-redshift Universe will be explored with unprecedented detail in the next decade by new facilities such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and 30m-class telescopes. To understand the high-redshift Universe and exploit this data, we are developing a model of galaxy formation that incorporates the relevant physics (including black hole growth, supernovae and the reionization of the Universe) in detail and which strives to solve that physics to high accuracy.

Although a member of the research faculty, I enjoy teaching and usually teach one or two graduate classes (on cosmology or galaxy formation) each year. In addition, I mentor graduate students on research projects spanning the range of analytical to numerical studies and in topics from the fundamentals of dark matter structure formation to details of star formation in galaxies. I am always happy to discuss future research projects with interested students.

[Image credits: A. Benson; NASA, A. Benson, and the NGST Science Team (STScI)]