Globulars, Ellipticals, (non) Baryons: Enlightenment Gleaned from Bayes' (Theorem)

(with apologies to Douglas Hofstadter)

Broadly speaking, I study the properties of globular clusters (GCs), elliptical galaxies, and dark matter (DM) halos. GCs, well-worth studying in their own right, can act as tracers of the dark matter content of galaxies, both directly as kinematic probes and indirectly through GC system mass-halo mass scaling relations. In addition, the spatial, color, and magnitude distributions of GCs about a galaxy offer the promise of distinguishing between different galaxy formation histories.

Despite GCs being readily observable in the local universe, large uncertainties in our models of GC formation hinder our ability to use GCs as tools for understanding galaxies and DM. However, successfully reproducing the observed distributions of GCs requires understanding all three entwined components of this braid (okay, enough half-baked GEB references). Hence, my work proceeds in gradual steps in different directions of the GC-galaxy-DM connections.

My work has mostly been in the regime of "small data" where model assumptions can have a large impact on any results. Thus I have maintained an interest in Bayesian statistics, where prior beliefs can be cleanly incorporated into the modeling process and the results of various assumptions readily quantified.

Some questions I am currently interested in: