Introducing Tanya Urrutia

My name is Tanya Urrutia and I am a postdoc at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany. It is an institute with quite a history as it once was the old Berliner Observatory, famous for discovering Neptune. By the end of the 19th century, light pollution was so bad in Berlin, that the observatory moved to the outskirts of Berlin to Potsdam. It still hosts two of the largest refractors in the world. Its campus is magnificent and I love working there. I did my undergrad studies here in Potsdam and then moved to the US for 9 years – first my PhD at UC Davis/LLNL and then to IPAC/Caltech for my first postdoc. I loved my time in California, but I am happy to be back in Germany.

My main scientific focus is Active Galactic Nuclei and their role in galaxy evolution. I especially focus on the very luminous part of these active black holes, also known as quasars. The very luminous quasars are thought to be born in mergers and the energies they release are thought to have an effect on its host galaxy shutting down star formation, though we are still not quite clear of the exact physics behind this. I also work on the MUSE instrument, a giant (1’x1′) 3D spectrograph that was installed on the VLT this January and is expected to begin GO observing this October. I have contributed to the data reduction pipeline, a quite difficult undertaking considering that we need to account for 24 IFUs. I am also a member of the GTO science team. One thing is for sure: MUSE will revolutionize the way we think about deep, high redshift surveys, taking spectra of everything(!) within that square arcmin. I write about my experience with life as a postdoc as well as my science at and usually tweet under @astrobellatrix.


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