Andrew Benson

Staff Scientist

The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science



I am a Staff Scientist at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science. My research is described in more detail here and my publications are available here. Current projects on which I'm working, together with available projects for prospective postdocs are listed here.
My research program centers around the process of galaxy formation, with a particular emphasis on formlating a coherent picture of the many different aspects of this problem. I have developed a new model of galaxy formation, Galacticus, which is now available to the community as an open source project. The approach blends both analytic understanding and significant number-crunching utilizing in-house and external compute clusters. Galacticus is being used by many research groups to study everything from sub-mm galaxies and galaxy clusters through to the host galaxies of type Ia supernovae. These are just a few examples of the areas of galaxy formation science that it can address.

Research Highlight

With Arif Babul, I am developing a more sophisticated model of black hole growth and jet production which is embedded within a hierarchically growing population of galaxies. As part of this work we have developed a relatively simple model to compute the rate of spin up (or down) of an accreting black hole and the power of the jets it produces while accreting. The figure shows the efficiency (measured relative to the accretion luminosity) of jets driven out of supermassive black hole plus accretion flow systems as a function of the spin (j) of the black hole. The jet efficiency is divided into contributions from winds driven from the accretion disk, and jets launched from close to the black hole horizon. Points show results from relativistic magnetohydrodynamics simulations, while the lines indicate the results from my model of jet efficiency. This model is simple to implement in analytic calculations but agrees extremely well with relativistic magneto-hydrodynamic calculations.



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Page last updated Saturday, July 5, 2014.