Center for Theory and Computation

The Maryland Astronomy Center for Theory and Computation (CTC) is the umbrella for theory- and computation-related programs within the Department of Astronomy. The mission of the CTC is to promote excellence and innovation in theoretical and computational astrophysics, providing a collective identity and focus point for both research and educational activities. Groups and individuals within the CTC pursue cutting-edge research that covers the full spectrum of technical and topical disciplines within contemporary astrophysics, and maintain collaborations with other theoretical and observational research groups worldwide. A major CTC emphasis is on developing and using state-of-the-art computational tools to extend the frontiers of astrophysical knowledge.

The CTC is the administrative structure that manages theory-related activities and resources within the Astronomy Department, including the theory seminar series ("Theory Lunch"), the Theory Visitors Program, and the Department computing cluster (yorp).

Recent Work By CTC Members


Small Binary Asteroid Formation Small binary asteroid formation. (Derek Richardson)
See the press release for further information.



Profile of an iron line from a black hole as an X-ray pulse passes over it. Profile of an iron line from a black hole as an X-ray pulse passes over it. (Chris Reynolds)



Ionization of the intergalactic medium by the first stars and galaxies. Ionization of the intergalactic medium by the first stars and galaxies. (Massimo Ricotti)


Facilities and Resources

Cluster Computing

Theory Think Tank

Computational facilities administered by the CTC include the Department computing cluster, yorp. This cluster consists of Intel and AMD computer nodes that are regularly upgraded or replaced to keep the facility modern and competitive. The cluster supports both serial and distributed parallel applications. Regular maintenance includes software upgrades and tape backups. For more information, visit the yorp web page.

The CTC is also a partner in campus high-performance computing. In 2014 the new deepthought2 cluster came on line, consisting of nearly 10,000 CPU cores with fast networking and high-throughout I/O. The Astronomy department has priority access to a substantial fraction of the facility.

(The picture above shows one of the yorp racks with AMD servers.)

Department Wiki

The department maintains a wiki on Astronomy Computing for the purpose of collecting together computing-related knowledge and expertise.


Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science & Technology    Joint Space-Science Center    Two intriguing investigations -- One flight-proven spacecraft    UMd Astronomy-Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Partnership    UMd Astronomy-Cote d'Azur Observatory Scientific Cooperation and Academic Exchange