Laura Parker
Laura Parker
Associate Professor
ABB 350

Laura Parker 640x192

My research interests lie in the general area of observational cosmology and galaxy evolution. I am most interested in the processes of galaxy and structure formation and I work on problems related to the relationship between observed, luminous galaxies and the dark matter halos that host them.

Some specific problems we're currently working on include: the dynamics and dynamical evolution of galaxy group systems, the dark matter halos of galaxies in different environments, the growth of central galaxies in groups and clusters, how group galaxy properties depend on the X-ray properties of the host group.

Prospective students? please read my letter to prospective graduate students, and feel free to contact me.

Observational studies of galaxy evolution, galaxy groups and clusters, and dark matter halos.

November 2014

Dear Prospective Graduate Student,

I am an observational astronomer and I study the link between the luminous and dark matter content in galaxies and larger structures. In my group we're working to unravel some of the mysteries of galaxy formation and evolution.

We're interested in the role that environment plays in galaxy evolution. Much of this effort is focused on the scale of galaxy groups - the environment within which most galaxies live and the environment where many galaxy evolution processes are most efficient. We use multi-wavelength imaging and spectroscopy to study the observed properties of these systems as well as weak gravitational lensing to study the underlying dark matter distribution. Galaxy groups typically only contain a handful of bright galaxies so they’re much more difficult to locate and study in detail when compared to rich galaxy clusters.

One of the research tools we use is called weak gravitational lensing. With gravitational lensing we can estimate the dark matter content in objects (galaxies, galaxy groups, large scale structure). The ultimate goal of this work is to understand the connection between the observed properties of galaxies and the properties of the dark matter halos in which they reside. This allows us to compare observations directly to simulations of structure formation, and can give us clues to important processes in the evolution of galaxies.

In addition to lensing work we are also generally interested in observational galaxy evolution studies. I'm a member of several survey projects that collect large statistical samples of galaxies to large distances (when the universe was ~half its current age), using wide-field optical and near-infrared data from the ground and from space observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope. I'm actively looking for enthusiastic students interested in observational cosmology and galaxy evolution.

Please contact me at lparker@physics.mcmaster.caif you think this is a research area you might be interested in!

Laura Parker

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