Cosmology and Astrophysics

Pursuing nature's truths with experiment, theory and computation

Cosmologists seek to answer big questions:

  • What is the Universe made of?
  • How did the Universe begin?
  • How did the galaxies and stars that
    light up our Universe form?

Researchers at the University of Michigan collaborate closely to apply cutting-edge theory, computation and instrumentation to find solutions to these fundamental puzzles.


Michigan theorists are working to understand physical processes in stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies, in order to map the evolution of the Universe itself. Principal areas of research include theories of the early Universe and inflation, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, dark matter and dark energy, the physics of galaxy clusters, and star/planet formation. Theorists work with experimental astrophysicists and astronomers in providing theoretical predictions and numerical simulations for a variety of observational projects in which Michigan is involved. Theorists also collaborate with high-energy physicists in exploring the fertile intersection between particle physics and cosmology.


Experimenters focus not only on cosmology, but on the interface of fundamental physics and astrophysics. A large group of Michigan astrophysicists participate in the Dark Energy Survey (DES) a large telescope in Chile that will measure the evolution of the dark energy that is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate. The ROTSE project, which recorded the first simultaneous optical flash from a gamma-ray burst (GRB), built and operates a global network of small telescopes in various remote locations to observe GRBs and other transient phenomena. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has created the first comprehensive digital map of the universe. The U-M SDSS group has led gravitational lensing analyses of SDSS data, revealing the relationship between luminous and dark matter. Michigan physicists also work on the cosmic microwave background experiments, the ACTPOL project and the South Pole Telescope, and on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) project. A brand new project with Chinese collaborators is Panda-X, a proposed underground 1-ton dark matter detector.


Fred Adams - Star formation and cosmology
Gus Evrard - Computational cosmology and theoretical astrophysics (dark matter / dark energy, large-scale structure, clusters of galaxies) -- DES, XMM XLL, ORCID Ambassador
Lennard Fisk - Theoretical plasma physics, solar atmosphere, heliosphere, interstellar medium
Katherine Freese - Theoretical cosmology and particle astrophysics (dark matter / dark energy, early-universe models)
Dragan Huterer - Theoretical cosmology (dark energy, CMB, large-scale structure) -- DES, DESI
Gordon Kane - High Energy Theory, Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology
Jean Krisch - General relativity, exact solutions in complex fluids

Carl Akerlof - Gamma ray bursts (ROTSE)
Paul Drake - High energy density physics, radiation hydrodynamics, plasma waves
David Gerdes - Observational astrophysics / cosmology (DES, DESI)
Wolfgang Lorenzon - Dark matter (PandaX)
Timothy McKay - Galaxy cluster cosmology (DES)
Jeff McMahon - Cosmology: CMB instrumentation, observations, data analysis (ACTPol, MUSTANG2)
Keith Riles - Gravitational wave physics (LIGO)
Joshua Spitz - High energy physics and astroparticle physics, neutrinos (MicroBooNE at Fermilab, J-PARC)
Greg Tarlè - Experimental Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (CREST, DES, DESI)



Research Projects in Experimental Astrophysics


Dark Energy Survey

Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument




Sloan Digital Sky Survey