Astronomy and Astrophysics

Extragalactic Astronomy

Tufts University research in extragalactic astronomy is led by Professors Danilo Marchesini and Anna Sajina. Both are primarily observers, although they closely collaborate with theorists. The main goals of their research activities is to understand:

  1. how galaxies formed after the Big Bang and how their properties have changed with cosmic time,
  2. what physical processes are responsible for the inferred changes in the galaxies' properties,
  3. the co-evolution between the host galaxy and its central super-massive black hole, and
  4. the dusty phases of galaxy formation and black hole growth.


Professor David Martin is a hybrid observer/theorist in extra-solar planets. Some of the main goes of his research are:

  1. Discovery of new exoplanets, particularly in challenging observational systems (e.g. circumbinary planets)
  2. Constructing theories of how exoplanets form and evolve
  3. Studying populations of multi-star systems, including exotic stars (e.g. white dwarfs, black holes, tight binaries)


Research in these areas involve faculty, postdocs, visitors, graduate and undergraduate students. To pursue their science goals, Tufts astronomers, faculty, and students make use of many of the world's leading space- and ground-based observational facilities, including the Hubble, SpitzerHerschel, TESS, and Kepler space telescopes, the Chandra and XMM-Newton X-ray satellites, the W.M. Keck Observatory, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) VLT, the Subaru telescope, the Gemini Observatory, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array radio telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

The Tufts Astronomy Group is a member of the Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS) survey collaboration. This provides access to state-of-the-art spectroscopic data for millions of galaxies allowing an unprecedented 3D view of galaxies distribution in space. This both allows us to study the dark matter dominated cosmic web and to study how galaxy properties are affected by where they are in this web.

Research Faculty

Danilo Marchesini is an expert of statistical studies of galaxy populations (i.e., luminosity and stellar mass functions), of ground- and space-based extragalactic surveys (optical and near/mid infrared), or construction of multi-wavelength photometric catalogs, and of detailed studies of distant massive galaxies through, e.g., ground- and space-based imaging and spectroscopic follow-up programs. Danilo Marchesini is a key member of several multi-wavelength surveys, including MUSYCNMBS, NMBS-II, 3D-HSTKIFFHFF-DeepSpace, and UltraVISTA.

Anna Sajina is an expert on mid-infrared active galactic nuclei (AGNs) selection as well as infrared AGN-starburst decomposition, spectral energy distribution modeling including photometric redshift determination. She also has an interest in machine learning methods applied to galaxy evolution studies (for example the new SurveySim code developed at Tufts). Anna Sajina is a key member of the Spitzer Extragalactic Representative Volume Survey (SERVS) and the DeepDrill survey.

David Martin is an expert on extra-solar planets. He is both a theorist and an observer. His theory work has been largely on planet formation and orbital dynamics, with particular interests in the Kozai-Lidov effect and planetary orbital evolution in binary and triple star systems. As an observer, David Martin has been involved in the discovery of dozens of new exoplanets and binary stars. He founded the BEBOP circumbinary planet survey and is a leader of the EBLM M-dwarf survey. He has a particular interest in finding planets in observationally challenging star systems.