On November 1, 2020 a new Emmy Noether funded research group led by Dr. Dylan Nelson started at the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics within the Center for Astronomy of Heidelberg University (ITA/ZAH). The new research group will specialize in computational galaxy formation and evolution, designing and carrying out numerical simulations to better understand how galaxies grow across cosmic time. The group is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with a 1.3 million euro grant under the Emmy Noether program.
Dr. Nelson's research focuses on how gas flows: in to, out of, and around galaxies. His interests include the theoretical modeling of the cosmic baryon cycle, cosmological gas accretion, the circumgalactic medium, and energetic feedback processes. What is the origin and structure of the CGM? What is the impact of baryonic feedback, driven by supernovae and supermassive black holes, on the CGM and baryon cycle? What are the observable signatures of cold (molecular/neutral), warm (ionized), and hot (e.g. x-ray emitting) gas in the interstellar medium (ISM) within galaxies, the circumgalactic medium (CGM) and intracluster medium (ICM) surrounding galaxies, and the intergalactic medium (IGM) on large scales? How can we develop novel computational methods to simulate the circumgalactic medium at ultra-high resolution, with new and complex physics such as anisotropic transport processes, cosmic rays, and non-equilibrium chemistry, and how can we bridge the gap between idealized numerical 'experiments' and fully cosmological galaxy formation simulations?
Dr Nelson's group studies these questions through numerical simulations, predominantly run with AREPO, a finite volume hydrodynamics code based on a moving unstructured mesh. Dr. Nelson is a principal contributor to the IllustrisTNG Project (www.tng-project.org), a next generation of cosmological magnetohydrodynamical simulations of galaxy evolution and large-scale structure formation. He is the Co-PI of the TNG50 simulation, and also worked on the Illustris simulation, the predecessor of TNG.
Since 2015 Dr. Nelson was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) in Munich, after completing his PhD at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University. The Emmy Noether Programme gives exceptionally qualified early career researchers the chance to qualify for the post of professor at a university by leading an independent junior research group for a period of six years.