How Do Galaxies Form?

UC Riverside’s Laura Sales will address the question in a free public talk on campus May 14

The majestic spiral galaxy NGC 4414, imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope.Image credit: NASA/ESA.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Exactly how many galaxies the universe contains is unknown, but that they number in the billions is undisputed.  Galaxies, which come in three main shapes – elliptical, spiral (such as the Milky Way, humanity’s home galaxy) and irregular – can be massive or small.

Soon after the Big Bang, did small particles come together and form stars, and later galaxies?  Or did the universe start off with immense clumps of matter that got broken down into galaxies?  No one is fully sure.

The public has the opportunity to clear some of the mist that surrounds the subject on Thursday, May 14, at the University of California, Riverside when Laura Sales, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside, gives a free talk on campus.

Titled “Tiny to Massive: Galaxy Formation in the Universe,” her hour-long lecture begins at 7 p.m. in Room A265, Winston Chung Hall.  Parking information can be found hereParking Lots 10 and 13 are recommended.

Laura Sales is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside.

Laura Sales is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside.

Sales will discuss scientists’ current understanding of how galaxies form and evolve in the universe within the cosmological scenario of cold dark matter (CDM), a form of dark matter theorized to consist of slow-moving elementary particles.

“In particular, small dwarf galaxies are very inefficient in forming stars and therefore most of their mass is dominated by dark matter,” she said. “I will review several observational facts about dwarf galaxies that challenge the cosmological paradigm of CDM and how we can use numerical simulations to help us study this in greater detail.”

Sales will repeat her talk in Spanish at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 21, in Room 2226, Pierce Hall.

Sales was born in Córdoba, Argentina, where she grew up and studied.  After her doctoral dissertation defense in 2007, she took up postdoctoral appointments in the Netherlands (Kapteyn Institute) and Germany (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics).  She returned to the Americas in 2013, when she joined Harvard University as an Institute for Theory and Computation Fellow.  Earlier this year, she joined the UCR faculty.  Her research focuses on galaxy formation, cosmology, the Milky Way and other galaxies within the Local Group (the galaxy group that includes the Milky Way).

Sales’s talk is part of a series of astronomy talks being held at UCR.  The series will conclude with a talk next month.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6050
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

Laura Sales
Tel: 951-827-7037

More information about the lecture series
Tel: (951) 827-5415

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