The Formation of Structure in the Cosmos

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About Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Mathematics and Physical Sciences lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

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Studies of the universe across multiple wavelengths and over billions of years of cosmic evolution have revealed a stunning cosmological history. By the present day, the relatively simple structures existing in the early universe have transformed into vast networks of galaxies and black holes. How and why does this happen? What can we learn by studying these transformations?

In this lecture, Juna Kollmeier will take you on a cosmic journey, starting with the infant universe and explain the current thinking about how “structure” emerges from this humble start. She will show how giant filaments of galaxies form from extremely smooth initial conditions in the current cosmological model. She will go over structures like the Milky Way and the most massive black holes in the universe and show how these are related to one another in fundamental ways. Dr. Kollmeier will highlight not only the beauty of these structures and superstructures, as revealed by powerful telescopes, but also the deep insights about the nature of the universe that we have learned by observing them and carefully characterizing them.

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About the Speaker

Dr. Kollmeier received a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 2000. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics before obtaining a Ph.D. at Ohio State University in 2006. She was a Carnegie-Princeton and Hubble Fellow at the Carnegie Observatories and Princeton University until 2008, when she became a member of the permanent faculty of the Carnegie Observatories. She was the first theoretician hired to the observatories, where she started the program in theoretical astrophysics. Her work lies at the intersection of computational, theoretical and observational astrophysics.

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