Awards Database

Cottrell Scholar Awards - 2016

Dušan Kereš

Assistant Professor of Physics, University of California, San Diego

Using Cosmological Hydrodynamic Simulations to Constrain Evolution of Galaxies and Their Gaseous Halos

Understanding the evolution of galaxies is one of the greatest challenges of modern astrophysics.

Dušan Kereš, assistant professor of physics at the University of California San Diego, is striving to develop and use state-of-the-art computer models to study the evolution of galaxies and their surrounding gaseous halos.

“Galaxies are actively forming stars and growing over most of the age of the Universe,” Kereš notes.  “Changes in gas supply can explain important aspects of galaxy evolution, such at their decreasing star formation rates over time.”

While crucial for growth of galaxies and star formation, the infall of gas into galaxies (due to gravitation and cooling) is only one side of the story, he adds. “If not regulated, gas infall and galaxy mergers would form galaxies much more massive than the observed ones. Therefore some process needs to remove a large fraction of the accreted material from galaxies, or prevent its infall in the first place. The main channel of gas removal likely comes from the energy input of newly-formed stars.”

His research hopes to answer such questions, as well as: How do gas infalls and outflows interact? How can we use observations of gas around galaxies to constrain theoretical models? How do outflows of material driven by energy input from young stars affect the distribution of dark matter within galaxies?

For the education component of the Cottrell Scholar Award, Kereš will use his local computing cluster and existing simulations to enable research-like experience for astrophysics students at the University of California San Diego. For his upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses, he will develop project-based assignments that will help students gain experience in effective use of data and models while teaching them about physical properties of galaxies. 

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