Monica Valluri uses numerical calculations and simulations to probe observed galactic phenomena in order to understand the physical processes that produce them. Her current focus areas are supermassive black holes and the interactions between dark matter and luminous matter in galaxies. She models the motions of stars to infer the properties of the unseen components of galaxies (black holes and dark matter) and to understand how these components formed.
Valluri’s work on black holes has allowed her to explain how they affect the properties of their host galaxies and to generate more accurate mass measurements for them. Over the past decade she has focused the effects of supermassive black holes on the stellar bars of disk galaxies. She has worked with collaborators to develop highly flexible algorithms for measuring black hole masses and infering the 3D spatial and velocity distributions of stars around them. Her work on dark matter has focused on characterizing the distribution of dark matter in our own Galaxy - the Milky Way. She and her collaborators model the motions of stars that travel through the dark matter halo to measure its 3D shape and mass distribution. She recently showed that the properties of tidal streams can be used to detect the predicted tumbling of the dark matter halo.
BS/MS in Physics, Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India; PhD in Astrophysics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India; Postdocs at Columbia University and Rutgers University; Senior Research Associate and Assistant Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago
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