Marcin Sawicki
Astronomy & Physics

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2017 January 18:     Euclid - now with SMU!

A number of Canadian astronomers are joining the Euclid Consortium thanks to the contribution of ground-based CFHT imaging, and I am among them. Check out the Saint Mary’s logo now on the Euclid front page [link here]! It’s been a long road and took many tries (e.g., see here), but we are finally “in”.
2017 March 16:     Dr. Bobby Sorba!

Today Bobby has successfully defended his PhD thesis “Using Model Spectral Energy Distributions to Study Galaxy Masses: Now and in the Future”. Only minor corrections to do as well.  Well done, Dr. Bobby! 

In the photo:  Dr. Sorba with his thesis advisor (left) and external examiner Dr. Adam Muzzin (right).  Also on the thesis defence committee - but not present in the picture as he was behind the camera - was SMU’s Dr. Rob Thacker.


2017 May 15:     Mahassen joins the group for the summer

Undergrad astrophysics student Mahassen-Hawraa Al-Saegh joins our research group for the summer on an NSERC USRA award.  Mahassen is going to study how a Kardashev Type-III civilization (namely a super-advanced civilization that has already colonized its entire galaxy) would go about colonizing the Universe around it - a realistic Universe that is not only expanding but also filled with large-scale structure.

Welcome to the team, Mahassen!


2017 August 9:     Gurpreet defends her MSc thesis

Gurpreet, seen to the left giving her thesis talk, successfully defended her MSc thesis entitled “Clustering and Dark Matter Halos of Ultra-Massive Passively Evolving Galaxies and Passive Galaxy Groups at z~1.6”.  Well done, Gurpreet!

Gurpreet’s research concerns UMPGs - Ultra Massive Passive Galaxies that by redshift ~1.6 have already ceased star formation but not before converting close to a trillion (1011.5) solar masses of gas into stars. Gurpreet has found that these “dead monsters” are associated with extremely massive and rare dark matter halos that contain about a hundred trillion (1014) solar masses of dark matter!  The implication is that these galaxies mark the locations of galaxy protoclusters that by today will turn into massive galaxy clusters like Coma and Virgo.  A similar result holds for groups of (somewhat) lower-mass quiescent galaxies. This then leads to a picture that UMPGs and quiescent galaxy groups at z~1.6 are two (possibly related) channels for building present-day central galaxies in massive clusters, such as M87 in Virgo.


2017 June 2:     CASCA 2017

I attend the 2017 meeting of the Canadian Astronomical Society in
Edmonton and give a presentation on the CLAUDS project.  There is strong interest in our project and a new collaboration, with Jeremy Heyl’s group at UBC (who are interested in young white dwarfs), ensues!

2017 May 17-19: CLAUDS team in Sendai

Anneya, Thibaud, and I go to Sendai, Japan, for the HSC collaboration meeting. Stephane Arnouts, Jean Coupon, Chengze Liu, and Xiaohu Yang are also at the meeting so we use this opportunity to have a core CLAUDS team meeting.

We attend many interesting science sessions and I give an update on the status of the CLAUDS project.  It’s also good to be in Sendai again - it’s been 4 years since I was there for my sabbatical.  Beautiful city in a beautiful part of Japan.  Alas, the conference is so busy that I don’t have time to visit my friends at Suzaku.


2017 August 29:     Lingjian joins the team.

Lingjian Chen, recently graduated from the Shangai Jiao Tong University, just arrived to start his MSc in our group.  Welcome to the team, Lingjian!


2017 September 2:     Mahassen wraps us summer term.

Mahassen wraps up her summer research project on cosmic civilization with a presentation at SMU’s undergraduate research symposium. Mahassen (front row centre, with her fellow presenters) is now back to more formal studies.  It was great to have you with us this summer, Mahassen.

2017 October 12:     GIRMOS funded

Canada Foundation for Innovation today announced funding to build, over the next five years, the Gemini InfraRed Multi-Object Spectrograph (GIRMOS).  See SMU’s press release here.

GIRMOS is an instrument for Gemini that will use adaptive optics and multiple intergral-field spectroscopy units to study the detailed working of galaxies in the distant universe.

SMU’s part in the project is to develop the data simulator and data reduction pipeline... and, of course, we also plan to use it for observing distant galaxies once GIRMOS is on the telescope in 2023 or so. 

2017 November 20-25:     Visit by Jean Coupon

Jean Coupon, a friend and collaborator on the CLAUDS project, visits us from Geneva Observatory for the week of Nov 20-25.  In addition to giving a fascinating colloquium on Probing the Galaxy-Mass Connection in TeraByte-scale Imaging Surveys (link here), Jean spends his time in Halifax discussing ongoing science and thinking up new projects with our group members.  A great visit, all-around!   

[photo of Jean by Henry McCracken]