Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy
My science program aims to study dwarf galaxies and their interaction with their environment, focused on predictions and comparisons with ongoing and upcoming observational campaigns, including Rubin LSST. I use zooms with the FIRE physics model (Feedback In Realistic Environments) and FIREbox, a state-of-the-art cosmological simulation employing this model. I am interested in the environmental processes shaping low-mass galaxies, including ram-pressure stripping, quenching, morphological transformation, and tidal disruption. To illustrate, earlier this year, I used FIREbox to demonstrate that extreme collisions between tiny and massive galaxies are responsible for the existence of dark-matter deficient galaxies (Moreno et al. 2022, Nature Astronomy, 6, 497).
Over the next five years, I also plan to run a new suite of zoom simulations extracted from FIREbox at the galaxy group scale. These include genetically-modified runs, runs with and without AGN feedback, and runs where the nature of dark matter is altered (i.e., warm and self-interacting dark matter). By carefully studying how tiny satellites and stellar streams are affected by these physics modifications, this program—which strongly couples cosmological simulations with Rubin science—promises to teach us about these baryonic channels and the nature of dark matter itself.
I am interested in mentoring a Catalyst fellow interested in using simulations to explore these topics. This person will also be invited to collaborate with the FIRE collaboration, especially with folks in Southern California (James Bullock at UC Irvine and Phil Hopkins Caltech) and elsewhere. If interested, this fellow will also receive mentoring on how to work towards careers in small liberal arts colleges and have the opportunity to co-mentor undergraduate researchers. I also care deeply about societal justice in astronomy, and this fellow would also be welcome to collaborate with me on that front.