Dr Connor Bottrell
"The science of today is the technology of tomorrow. Edward Teller, a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist". 

Connor’s studies predominately took place at the University of Victoria, Canada. After receiving his PhD in 2020, Connor spent 2.5 years as a Kavli Fellow at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe in Tokyo, Japan. Having his sights set on Australia after many memorable work visits, Connor eagerly made the jump in 2023 when he was offered a Forrest Research Foundation Fellowship at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research and the University of Western Australia.

Connor’s research focuses on how galaxies are assembled. He expresses a particular interest in galaxy collisions asking a series of questions “With the Milky Way and Andromeda due to collide in a few billion years. How do such collisions change the physical properties of galaxies? Can galaxies be linked to their collision records?” To investigate this, Connors research uses super-computer simulations in conjunction with observations and machine learning to examine the competition between collisions and external gas inflows in shaping galaxies. State-of-the-art observational facilities like the Square Kilometre Array stand to yield a renaissance in the field by revealing the ecosystem of gas in-and-around galaxies in the nearby and distant Universe. Meanwhile, the ability to track individual galaxies backward through time in a simulation offers a window through which a galaxy’s observable properties can be linked to its unobservable assembly history.

Currently Connor is looking at the role of very small galaxy-galaxy collisions in driving structural change and accelerating the formation of stars in galaxies. Connor states “When we think about galaxy collisions, we usually think about the big ones: major mergers. But my recent research is showing that frequent “mini” collisions have an understated role in accelerating the formation of stars and driving instability in ordered structures in disk galaxies like the Milky Way. I think it is particularly beautiful that these mini collisions have such major consequences. If there is one law of the Universe, it is that there are more small things than big things. So, it is quite interesting to find that collisions between galaxy and mini companions have such an important role”.

AffiliatedUniversity of Western Australia|
Focus areaUniverse