Dr. Allison Man

Allison Man’s research area is galaxy evolution. She studies how massive galaxies assemble their stars in the first few billion years of the cosmic history. She uses gravitational lensing to obtain a resolved view of distant galaxies — they are otherwise too faint and too small to be observed with current telescopes.

Her thesis work centered on measuring the frequency of galaxy mergers, and quantifying its importance in galaxy evolution. More recently she investigates the star formation efficiency of distant galaxies at redshift z=2-4, when the Universe was most intensively forming stars. Some of her research questions include:

  • What makes star formation more intense in the early Universe than the present day?
  • What triggers bursts of star formation in galaxies?
  • Why do the most massive galaxies eventually stop forming stars? Have they run out of fuel (cold molecular gas), or are there physical mechanisms that makes their star formation inefficient?
  • How do active galactic nuclei affect the star formation in galaxies?

She addresses these questions by conducting deep observations of various types of distant galaxies across the electromagnetic spectrum. By performing absorption line spectroscopy with the X-SHOOTER spectrograph at the Very Large Telescope, she studies the stellar populations and the warm interstellar medium of distant galaxies. In addition, she uses the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and Very Large Array to investigate molecular gas conditions in distant galaxies. With these resolved, multi-wavelength observations, her hope is to improve our knowledge of galaxy evolution, and to make forecasts for next generation facilities such as the James Webb Space Telescope.

Aside from research, she is enthusiastic about using astronomy for development. She initiated and coordinated the Astronomy Research Training project that took place in Ghana in 2018. She was an instructor in the West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers 2017 and is actively involved in mentoring students.

Allison Man received her PhD in Astrophysics and MSc in Physics from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Before joining the Dunlap Institute in 2018, she was a Fellow at the European Southern Observatory Headquarters in Germany.