About

Hello and thanks for stopping by.

I'm a PhD student working at both the Max Plank Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) and the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (ITA) in the beautiful city of Heidelberg, Germany. The goal of my research is to better understand how the formation of stars changes galaxies, and, how the properties of galaxies affect star formation. I work with both real and synthetic observations of distant galaxies, bridging the research groups of Fabian Walter (MPIA) and Simon Glover (ITA).

Alongside my PhD I also do outreach. I regularly give guided tours, planetarium shows and public talks about astronomy in English and German. I've also developed workshops for high school students and helped organise stargazing nights.

Outside of academia I love outdoor sports, particularly running and cycling. I spend a lot of time cooking, eating and planning food. To my friend's delight (or horror) I also like to draw portraits.

Research

My research is aimed at better understanding how galaxies evolved. What impact do successive generations of star formation have on the evolution of galaxies? And, on the flipside, how does the evolution of galaxies affect the formation of stars? To answer these questions I use spectroscopic observations from some of the largest ground-based telescopes (Keck, Subaru and the VLA) as well as simulations of molecular gas clouds.

It turns out that the typical galaxies of 10 billion years ago were forming stars far more rapidly than typical galaxies today, like our own Milky Way. But why were stars forming much more rapidly in the past? And why are there populations of galaxies with much higher than average rates of star formation? Is the answer to these questions simply that there was a greater supply of gas? Or was star formation somehow more efficient in the past?

The aim of my current work is to help answer these questions by more accurately measuring the amount of cold, molecular gas (from which the stars are forming) in distant galaxies. I am comparing different methods of estimating gas masses using observations of real galaxies, as well as simulating the emission from distant molecular gas clouds to assess the assumptions astronomers make when measuring gas masses.

I'm interested in all phases of the interstellar medium. During my Masters I focussed on the conditions within the ionised interstellar medium of distant star-forming galaxies, the phase tracing recent star formation. By comparing samples of local and high-redshift galaxies, my collaborators and I showed that the electron density of the dominant population of star-forming galaxies (i.e. main-sequence galaxies) evolves with the global star formation rate. We also showed that the inferred "ionisation parameter" of distant galaxies is greater due to their high specific star formation rates (star formation rate relative to the stellar mass).

Publications

Get In Touch

If you have any questions about my research you can send me a message.

    Address




    Phone

    Email

    Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
    Königstuhl 17
    D-69117 Heidelberg
    Germany

    +49 (0)6221-528-349

    kaasinen_at_mpia.de