Guang Yang who recently completed his doctoral degree in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics has been recognized for outstanding scientific achievements by the International Astronomical Union. Guang Yang was selected to receive the 2019 IAU PhD Prize in the High Energy Phenomena and Fundamental Physics division. Yang will be presented with a certificate at the 2021 IAU General Assembly meeting in Busan, South Korea.
Yang’s research, completed under the supervision of W. Niel Brandt, Verne M. Willaman Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics and professor of physics, focused on using cosmic surveys to understand what drives the growth of central black holes in galaxies over most of cosmic time.
“As part of my research, I used data from massive X-ray surveys like Chandra Deep Field-South & North and COSMOS-Legacy to study the evolution of black holes and their host galaxies starting 12 billion years ago,” said Yang.
Black holes are commonly found at the centers of massive galaxies. It was thought that black-hole growth was related to the overall rate of star formation in its host galaxy, but Yang found that it is more closely related to the stellar mass of some galaxies. His research also directly shows that black holes coevolve with the host galaxy’s galactic bulge—the tightly packed group of stars usually near the center of the galaxy—rather than entire galaxy.
“Guang’s Ph.D. thesis accomplishments were superb, and he delivered some of the best results in the world on how distant massive black-hole growth depends upon galaxy properties and cosmic large-scale structures,” said Brandt. “This was possible due to a combination of scientific creativity, strong skills in data analysis and interpretation, and an incredible work ethic and drive for excellence. Guang led or co-authored an astonishing 15 cutting-edge papers during his Ph.D. studies.”
Yang is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Texas A&M University, working to prepare for exciting new science with the soon-to-launch James Webb Space Telescope.