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Stellar Dynamics & Stellar Populations

Star Clusters, Galactic Nuclei, Stellar Collisions & Mergers, Interacting Binaries

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Stars are among the most numerous objects in the Cosmos, and are the primary objects that make the bulk of larger structures we observe. They are born together, and consequently evolve together, often interacting with a close companion over the course of their lives, or interacting dynamically with many other stars in the dense stellar environments in which they are found. These interactions have profound influence on the long term evolution of stars. In CIERA, we consider numerical and theoretical models of stellar interactions and use them to understand and explain observations of stars across the Milky Way, and in dense stellar systems.

Research at CIERA

The centers of galaxies are complex environments whose properties are a result of the interactions between the massive black holes that reside there, vast clouds of gas, and dense populations of stars and stellar remnants.

Professor Rasio’s group studies numerical models of dense stellar environments such as nuclear star clusters.

Professor Larson’s group studies the interactions of single stars with massive black holes, a prospective LISA gravitational wave source class known as an EMRI (“extreme mass ratio inspiral”).

Professor Zadeh is an observer who studies stellar populations and physical processes in the Milky Way nucleus using observations across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Professor Fragione investigates the dynamical evolution of dense stellar environments including galactic nuclei. By using a combination of observational data, high precision simulation-based techniques, and analytical equations, he studies how the primordial properties of dense star clusters shape their fate and observable properties across cosmic time.



CIERA Postdoctoral Fellowship Positions in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Deadline: 11:59pm, November 22, 2022

The Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) at Northwestern University invites applications for CIERA Postdoctoral Fellowships. CIERA Fellows have the opportunity to pursue an independent research program and benefit from a diverse and dynamic intellectual environment.

Postdoctoral Associate Positions in Observational Astronomy & Astrophysics

Deadline: 11:59pm, November 22, 2022

Northwestern University expects to offer postdoctoral associate positions in observational astronomy and astrophysics starting in fall 2022. These positions will be part of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) at Northwestern. Successful applicants will benefit from interaction with a broad interdisciplinary group of researchers and will be immersed in a diverse and dynamic intellectual environment.



Core Faculty

Associate and Affiliate Faculty


Graduate Students

Research Staff