Andrew Benson

Staff Member


I am a member of the scientific staff at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science. My research focuses on modeling the formation and evolution of galaxies. The primary aim of my research program is to develop a detailed and, most importantly, quantitative model of galaxy formation based upon known physical laws rather than empirical rules. Our empirical knowledge of galaxy formation is rapidly becoming quantitatively precise, and so has the potential to strongly discriminate between theoretical ideas regarding the formation and evolution of galaxies. Unfortunately, the required confrontation of theory with observations cannot occur at present as our ability to analytically model galaxy formation is currently restricted to making predictions accurate only to within "factors of a few." Progress can only be made therefore by developing a model of galaxy formation which incorporates the relevant physics in detail and which strives to solve that physics to high accuracy. These goals require the use of state-of-the-art models of galaxy formation, both N-body and phenomenological (a.k.a. "semi-analytical"). Over the past two years I have developed a novel, open source semi-analytic model of galaxy formation, Galacticus, which represents a new and unique approach to the problem. Galacticus, is now arguably the most advanced and detailed analytic model of galaxy formation available.


MPhys (physics and astrophysics), 1997, University of Leicester; PhD, 2000, University of Durham

The formation of cosmic structure, from dark matter to galaxies and AGN.