Matthew B. Bayliss

Biographical Info:


MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics

and Space Research

77 Vassar St

Cambridge, MA 02139 USA

Office: 37-582f

Office Phone: (617) 258-7259


mbayliss -at symbol- space (dot) mit (dot) edu

Internal Links:

Curriculum Vitae: PDF

Publications: PDF - ADS

External Links:

South Pole Telescope

The SPT-GMOS Data Release

Dinosaur Comics

I am Research Scientist at the MIT MKI working to solve problems in observational astrophysics and cosmology. Previously I was a Faculty Fellow in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Colby College, and prior to that I was a postdoc working with Professor Christopher Stubbs at Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Before that I was a grad student in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago where I was advised by Professor Michael Gladders. Going back even farther, I was an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I worked on the Goodman Spectrograph with Professor Chris Clemens, and then worked on GRB follow-up and on building the PROMPT array with Professor Dan Reichart.

I am an observer by trade and enjoy working with instrumentation and data at all wavelengths, though I am especially proficient with data in the optical and infrared. My scientific expertise is in observational cosmology and extragalactic astrophysics, with both galaxy clusters and high-redshifts galaxies. The broad goal of my research is to describe the way in which structure on the largest observable scales developed into its current form, starting from the Big Bang. Specifically, I use large samples of galaxy clusters that are selected both from their optical light, and with the Sunyaev Zel'dovich (SZ) Effect, to test predictions for structure formation. Within the galaxy cluster zoo, I spend a lot of my time working with strong lensing clusters where the strong lensing phenomenon yields information about the structure and properties of the cluster lenses while also providing highly magnified images of distant background galaxies. I use a wide range of facilities in my research, including incredible NASA observaties like the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. I also make frequent use of large ground-based observatories, including Magellan and Gemini.

I have a strong interest in science education and outreach. I am part of a small group at MIT that started up the Boston/Cambridge version of Astronomy On Tap. We've put together a bunch of great events in the past couple years, so if you're local to the Boston area then keep an eye on our calendar and join us! I've also given several public astronomy lectures, including the Harvard-Smithsonian monthly Observatory Night talk, and a public lecture at the Keene, NH public library hosted by the Keene Amateur Astronomy Club. In Chicago I spent more than 400 hours on lab/class development and teaching with the Space Explorers program, which provides intensive, year-round, lab-based science education to inner-city students from the south side of Chicago. I also provided expert volunteer support at the Adler Planetarium, serving as a guide to the science displays in Adler's Space Visualization Lab. I am always happy to talk about my research (or other topics in astronomy and astrophysics) so please feel free to contact me if you're looking to find a guest speaker or something along those lines (details on the left hand margin of this page).

One of my favorite examples of spectacular strong lensing is pictured below; this is Hubble Space Telescope imaging of a highly magnified galaxy that we studied in great detail in Bayliss et al. (2014b). The strongly lensed galaxy, which we are seeing as it existed 12 billion years ago when the universe was only 10% of it's current age, is magnified by a factor of 30x; this magnification allows us to use the HST as if it had a 30x larger collecting area. In other words, we are able to use Hubble, a 2.3m diameter telescope, as if it were the 6.5m diameter James Webb Space Telescope (Hubble's successor, scheduled to launch in 2021).