Jan 6, 2024

The front page of today's NY Times features an article (under the fold) on work led by former Rutgers undergraduate (BS 2013), Viraj Pandya.

The study, based on observations taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, shows that galaxies in the early universe do not have the shape expected based on currently favored theories of galaxy formation under the standard cosmological model. This work has potential implications for the nature of dark matter and modifications to early universe cosmology. Before jumping to such exotic ideas, though, astronomers need to be much more confident about the behavior of gas, turbulence, heating and cooling, and other elements of the "gastrophysics" of matter in the early universe that influence star and galaxy formation.


Viraj is giving a talk at the American Astronomical Society on the work which is soon to be published in the Astrophysical Journal under the title "Galaxies Going Bananas" (
https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2023arXiv231015232P/abstract )

Viraj's pathway to astronomy was non-traditional - he graduated Rutgers with an economics degree and a math minor. The year he spent in the astro group working with Prof, Saurabh Jha as a research assistant (2013-14) was an important step in his career, which has included post-baccalaureate studies at Princeton, summer research positions with former Rutgers professor Rachel Somerville at the Flatiron Institute, a PhD from UC Santa Cruz, and his current position as a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia.

Congratulations, Viraj! Keep up the good work!