Our research focuses on the processes that connect galaxies to their environment. Current projects address the following topics: the accretion of circumgalactic gas, the ejection of interstellar gas by galactic winds, the chemical evolution of galaxies, and cosmic reionization. We aim to understand the assembly of galactic disks, the low baryon fraction in dwarf galaxies today, and the nature of the first galaxies. We are looking for new graduate students to explore the universe using the Hubble Space Telescope imaging, Keck Observatory spectroscopy, and upcoming NIRCAM and NIRSPEC observations with the James Webb Space Telescope.


Galaxies are central to our understanding of the universe. They trace the geometry of space-time and give birth to stars and planets. Galaxy formation theory accurately describes the gravitational amplification of structure in the matter distribution over cosmic time. Unfortunately, most of the (dark) mass density in the universe is not normal baryonic material, so the theory does not directly predict the observable feature of galaxies -- starlight. Research in Crystal Martin's research focuses on the astrophysics of galaxy formation and evolution, trying to understand in detail why the star formation rate varies widely among galaxies. Central to this work is the idea of feedback from supernova explosions, which inject energy, momentum, and heavy elements into the surrounding interstellar gas. The new conditions dictate whether the gas clouds form another generation of stars. Observations demonstrate that supersonic shock waves, driven by the combined energy of many supernova explosions, sweep interstellar gas into large shells.

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Last Updated 2022 April 1