Matt Taylor

Assistant Professor

Department of Physics and Astronomy

PhD - Astrophysics

Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, 2016

BSc - Combined Physics & Astronomy

University of Victoria, 2011

Contact information

Research and teaching

Research areas

  • Extragalactic globular cluster systems
  • Compact stellar systems
  • Dwarf galaxies
  • Galaxy clusters

Research interests

My research focuses on "low-mass stellar systems", including globular clusters (GCs), nuclear star clusters (NSCs), ultra-compact dwarf galaxies (UCDs), and dwarf galaxies. Such objects are found in rich populations around giant galaxies throughout the nearby Universe, and can each be used in their own ways to infer the evolutionary histories of the giant galaxies and galaxy clusters that host them.

I am a member of several large-scale surveys of the Local Universe including the Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey, Next Generation Fornax Cluster Survey, and Neighbourhood Watch, which are all observational surveys in optical and near-infrared colours designed to identify rich satellite systems around several nearby galaxy groups and clusters.

I am also the PI of a complementary program utilizing the James Webb Space Telescope to search for so-called "intermediate-mass" black holes (IMBHs) in the centres of several compact stellar systems (GCs, NSCs, UCDs, and related "compact elliptical" galaxies). We will be using the NIRSpec integral-field unit to measure the velocities of stars in the cores of the targets to search for the telltale central spike that represents smoking-gun evidence for the presence of a massive black hole. With expected data acquisition in 2022, these data represent an exciting opportunity to prove the existence of IMBHs and study the evolution of super-massive black holes across cosmic time!

Current research opportunities are available in the following projects:

  • Do Massive Black Holes Come in Small Packages? A census of black holes in compact stellar systems in the Virgo cluster with JWST/NIRSpec
  • The Survey of Centaurus A's Baryonic Structures
  • The Next Generation Fornax Cluster Survey
  • The Velocity Field of NGC5128's (Centaurus A's) Outer Halo
  • Neighbourhood Watch: Taking stock of baryonic structures in the nearby Universe