University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Astrophysics, Cosmology and Gravitation

Yong-Zhong Qian
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"My laboratory is a supernova," Yong Qian states matter-of-factly with a smile. Qian is a theoretical physicist studying neutrino oscillations, the change from one "flavor" to another as a neutrino moves through matter and space. This phenomenon occurs because a neutrino is created in one of three flavor states (or simply “flavors”), with three distinct mass states.

CDMS detector
Detectors from the CDMS experiment

Physics of The Cosmos

Welcome to the Cosmology Group at the University of Minnesota! We are a diverse but cohesive group of Physics and Astronomy faculty, post-docs and graduate students engaged in research work in Cosmology, Gravitation and related fields. Our research interests span a wide range of topics in the experimental, theoretical and observational Cosmology.

On the experimental side we are involved in all aspects of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) experiment, in the building of balloon-borne instruments to detect minute signals from the Big Bang as imprinted on the Cosmic Microwave Background, and in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), a network of multi-kilometer interferometers designed to search for gravitational waves. On the theoretical side we investigate the earliest moments of the Universe, the inflationary epoch whose outcome sets the stage for the later evolution of galaxies and clusters. We map the mass distribution in these structures in order to reveal the properties of dark matter. We also study the origin and evolution of the chemical elements from their production during the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and in the interiors of stars, to their dispersal by supernova and mixing into the interstellar medium. We carry out observational programs to test theoretical predictions of the chemical evolution models and to uncover new properties of stars and galaxies.

Our weekly Monday lunchtime seminars cover a variety of cosmology and related topics and are generally accompanied by lively discussions. With the generous help from the Fine Theoretical Physics Institute we organize yearly workshops that attract international experts.

Astrophysics and Cosmology Faculty

Priscilla CushmanDark matter searches, novel particle detectors, collaborative work in integrative tools for Underground Science, low background techniques
Lucy FortsonHigh-energy astrophysics, gamma-ray astronomy, extragalactic astronomy including active galactic nuclei and barred spirals; Developing online citizen science as a method to solve research problems with large datasets; physics education research.
Shaul HananyObservational Cosmology; Early Universe Physics
Alexander HegerMassive and very massive stars, the first stars, stellar rotation, nucleosynthesis, supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, X-ray bursts.
Vuk MandicGravitational Wave Physics, Observational Cosmology, Early Universe Physics
Keith OliveCosmology/Particle Physics
Marco PelosoAstroparticle physics, Inflation, Cosmology of extra-dimensions, Physics beyond the Standard Model
Clement PrykeAstrophysics and Cosmology--Cosmic microwave background
Yong-Zhong QianNuclear/particle astrophysics and cosmology: neutrino oscillations and their effects in astrophysical environments, supernova explosion and nucleosynthesis, chemical evolution of galaxies
M. Claudia ScarlataGalaxy formation and evolution: massive galaxies, evolution of galaxy structure. Lyα line as a cosmological tool: escape of Lyα photons, large-scale structure, Lyα blobs. Reionization: Lyman continuum escape fraction, IR background fluctuations
Evan SkillmanExtragalactic Observational Astronomy; Specializing in: Chemical Evolution of Galaxies, Structure and Evolution of Dwarf Galaxies, H II Region Abundances, Star Formation, Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, Cluster Galaxies
Liliya L.R. WilliamsCosmology; distribution of dark matter; properties of dark matter halos; gravitational lensing; formation of structure

Astrophysics and Cosmology Researchers

Francois AubinCosmology
Matthew Frittsastroparticle physics, cosmology, cryogenics
Cameron Rulten
Robert Schwarz
Anthony Villano

Astrophysics and Cosmology Graduate Students

Sourabh Chauhan
Allison KennedyI am interested in particle physics with a current emphasis on dark matter.
Trevor KnuthSolar physics, nanoflare emission, x-ray instrumentation
Cheng-Hsien LiNeutrino oscillations with three flavors and CP violation
Mark Mackey
Huaqing Mao
Sergey Monin
Congxin Qiu
Catherine Raach
Pamela Sherwood