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Research Fellows Directory

Robert Crain

Dr Robert Crain

Research Fellow


Liverpool John Moores University

Research summary

I am a Royal Society University Research Fellow based at the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John Moores University.

My chief research interest is the formation of galaxies and their dynamic co-evolution with their gaseous environments. My primary research tools are large-scale hydrodynamical simulations of cosmic structures and their associated galaxy populations, conducted on world-leading supercomputing facilities. These ‘synthetic universes’ are evolved over 14 billion years of cosmic history, from the Big Bang to the present day. They are the astrophysicist’s analogue of laboratory experiments; they enable us to study the complex processes that shape the properties of galaxies and their environments, and that ultimately govern the nature of the galaxy population we observe around us. My research attempts to answer questions such as: Which physical processes drive the star formation history of the Universe? How do feedback mechanisms associated with the formation of stars and the growth of black holes regulate the growth of galaxies and their black holes? How do galaxies acquire their diverse morphologies? How and when was intergalactic gas enriched with heavy elements? How can we best observe the tenuous gas that resides around galaxies? Are galaxies affected by their environment?

I also maintain an interest in the stereoscopic visualisation of 3-dimensional datasets, having developed volume rendering software with fellow Royal Society URF Dr. James Geach (University of Hertfordshire). Movies and images generated with this software have featured in Scientific American, Universe: The Definitive Visual Guide, the front cover of Nature, and in the award-winning documentary Cosmic Origins.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

The gaseous Universe in realistic cosmological simulations

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Nov 2014 - Oct 2019

Value: £421,645.64