College of Science

Brianna Thierjung

Brianna is currently studying Math and Physics at Cal Poly Pomona University. She is enjoying her upper division courses and is very active in research and other things on campus. She spent her summer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics doing research through CAMPARE using galaxy merger simulations. This is her story.

This summer in Boston was a memorable one indeed. When my research partner, Francisco Mercado, and I first arrived, we took a week to settle in and familiarize ourselves with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the tools provided for us. We set up accounts on the Odyssey super computer and started writing and running some fundamental codes. Something very awesome about this research experience is that our mentor, Dr. Mentor allowed us to choose what our summer projects would be. Many undergraduates do not have this privilege. Although it was challenging sometimes, I learned that creating science from scratch really does come with experience. 

I decided what I wanted to do and immediately jumped into using the FIRE simulation data to analyze these bridges in the galaxy mergers. I made many movies at first. These helped me to visually inspect the mergers and gave me some direction on what the next step should be. After these small steps, the ideas and science started to come easier to me. The rest of the summer was loads of fun as I continued to grow as a scientist and dive deeper into the field of theoretical astronomy. 

Galaxy Mergers in FIRE: A Study of Galactic Bridges – Simulation Videos

This is a galaxy merger taken from a set of simulations based on the FIRE model (Hopkins et al. 2014). A radiative transfer code is used to construct a realistic-looking version of the simulation.
This is a galaxy merger taken from a set of simulations based on the FIRE model (Hopkins et al. 2014). This two-dimensional contour plot shows the line-of-sight velocity of the gaseous component of the galaxies. The geometry shown is used to create a conical cylinder that will encapsulate the bridge (in between section).
This is a galaxy merger taken from a set of simulations based on the FIRE model (Hopkins et al. 2014). This two-dimensional contour plot shows the line-of-sight velocity of the gaseous component of the galaxies. The geometry shown is used to create a conical cylinder that encapsulates the bridge (in between section ). The gas encapsulated by the two spheres is removed from the plot in order to focus on the behavior of the bridge.