CTC Research

Members of the CTC pursue research in a wide range of areas within theoretical astrophysics. Subject areas of particular emphasis include:

Solar System Astrophysics:
orbital dynamics of rings and moons, fundamentals of resonance-driven evolution, mechanics of asteroid and planetesimal collisions, evolution of dust, solar system origins
Galactic Astrophysics:
formation of stars and planets, dynamics of the interstellar medium, photodissociation regions, star cluster dynamics, dark matter dynamics
High Energy Astrophysics:
radiation from neutron stars and black holes, gravitational radiation, diagnostics of AGN, fundamentals of accretion physics, magnetohydrodynamics of jets and winds, gas physics in galaxy clusters
galaxy formation & evolution, intergalactic medium (Lyman-alpha forest and reionization), the formation of the first stars, black holes, globular clusters and the origin of dwarf galaxies.

A major emphasis of the CTC is on development and application of computational tools to enable forefront astrophysics research. These tools include symplectic integration codes for orbit evolution, parallel tree codes for N-body problems, and grid-based codes for magnetohydrodynamics. CTC members are also involved in development of community software packages for visualization and analysis of numerical simulations. Large-scale numerical simulations are performed on the Department's in-house computing cluster, yorp, the University's deepthought clusters, and at national supercomputer centers.

Student research projects in theoretical/computational areas are normally supervised by CTC professorial faculty, often in collaboration with CTC research faculty members and with members of the department involved in observational research.

CTC People

The CTC currently has five professorial faculty members.

Doug Hamilton
is a planetary theorist who has worked on dust dynamics, Trojan asteroids, and rings in the solar system.
Cole Miller
is interested in high energy processes in accreting neutron star and black hole systems, the evolution of structure in the early universe, and dynamics and gravitational radiation from intermediate-mass black holes.
Chris Reynolds
is interested in the central regions of black hole systems, as well as the physics of the jets that some black holes produce.
Derek Richardson
works on granular models of asteroid interiors and surfaces, the dynamics of dense planetary rings, and the formation of planetesimals in the early solar system, and is involved in several current and proposed space missions to small solar system bodies.
Massimo Ricotti
is a cosmologist interested in high redshift galaxy formation, nearby dwarf galaxies, the physics of the intergalactic and interstellar medium.

Professorial Faculty

Michael Boylan-Kolchin
Douglas P. Hamilton
M. Coleman Miller
Christopher S. Reynolds
Derek C. Richardson
Massimo Ricotti

Research Faculty

Peter J. Teuben
Mark G. Wolfire

Graduate Students

Sidharth Kumar
Emil Polisensky
Ronald Ballouz

Former Members

Tamara Bogdanovic (Georgia Tech)
Mia Bovill
Laura Brenneman (NASA/GSFC)
Gilberto Gomez (UNAM, Morelia, Mexico)
David Garofalo
Mike Gill
Hao Gong
Kayhan Gultekin (Michigan)
Daniel Jontof-Hutter
Hiroshi Koyama
Vanessa Lauburg (Garrison Forrest School)
Zoe Leinhardt (University of Bristol)
Samuel Leitner
Graeme Lufkin
Soko Matsumura (U. Dundee, Scotland)
Barry McKernan (Coastal Carolina University)
Sean O'Neill
Eve C. Ostriker (Princeton)
Kwangho Park
Randall Perrine
Catherine Philpott
Rob Piontek (Potsdam Astronomical Institute, Germany)
Steve Schwartz (Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, France)
Rahul Shetty (Harvard University)
Aaron Skinner
John Vernaleo
Kevin Walsh (Southwest Research Institute, Boulder)
Dara Zeehandelaar (USC Rossier School of Education)
Ke Zhang (UC Santa Cruz)


Theory Lunch

A forum for research lectures, on an advanced level, given either by members of the department or visitors. Upcoming Theory Lunch talks are listed in the Astronomy Department Colloquia Calendar.

The Theory Visitors Program

A program for distinguished researchers with interests in theoretical and computational astrophysics to visit the department for an extended period. Recent visitors have included C. Agnor, O. Blaes, W. F. Bottke, Jr., J. Burns, M. Cuk, C. Gammie, A. Ghez, N. Gnedin, P. Goldreich, R. Greenberg, Z. Haiman, Matt Hedman, K. Holly-Bockelmann, T. Hurford, H. Levison, J.-L. Margot, C. McKee, P. Meszaros, D. Nesvorny, F. Shu, S. Sigurdsson, S. Tremaine, and M. Tiscareno.

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