How did the earliest and largest clusters of galaxies form? In episode 88, Arianna Long from the University California – Irvine talks with us about her research into the emergence of massive dusty star-forming galaxies that developed billions of years ago. Her article “Emergence of an Ultra-Red Ultra-Massive Galaxy Cluster Core at z = 4” was published on July 31, 2020 with multiple co-authors in The Astrophysical Journal and first submitted to arXiv as a preprint on March 30th 2020.

Early Galaxies' Formation - Arianna Long
Early Galaxies' Formation - Arianna Long
Early Galaxies' Formation - Arianna LongEarly Galaxies' Formation - Arianna Long
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Hosts / Producers

Doug Leigh & Ryan Watkins

How to Cite

Leigh, D., Watkins, R., & Long, A.. (2020). Parsing Science – Early Galaxies’ Formation. doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.13283789


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Arianna Long: What we really want to do as astronomers is we really want to push back the age at which we can study these protoclusters – so baby galaxy clusters – and really try to capture that moment in time when they’re forming most of their stars.

Ryan Watkins: This is Parsing Science, the unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science, as told by the researchers themselves. I’m Ryan Watkins.

Doug Leigh: And I’m Doug Leigh. Today in Episode 88 of Parsing Science, we’ll talk with Arianna Long from the University of California Irvine, about her research into the emergence of massive dusty star-forming galaxies, which developed billions of years ago. Here’s Arianna Long.

Long: Hi, I’m Arianna Long. I am a doctoral candidate at the University of California Irvine, studying physics and astronomy. I grew up in the Florida Keys for my elementary years, where I definitely fell in love with the night sky, but also the ocean abyss. Just the … I guess the entirety of the depths of the universe really fascinated me. And then I moved to Maryland, in middle school, roughly. And then I was really good at sciences. Love the science, love math. So I ended up going to school to actually be a math teacher at Towson University, which is a really great teaching school in the state of Maryland. While I was there, I realized I actually really, really liked the science part. But I was pretty progressed in my degree by the time I figured that out. I am a first-gen student. And so you know, no one in my family actually went through the Ph.D. process or did any science in college. So I didn’t even know really what that meant. So I did a little bit of research and mathematical modeling in my senior year. But again, it was a little late to kind of apply to grad school. And to be honest, I wanted to work a little bit and make some money. So I moved out to California and worked, actually, as a business consultant for about a year and a half. And it was interesting, but I couldn’t really fight the fact that in my heart, I felt this tug towards science and exploration. So I ended up applying to a master’s program since I didn’t have an explicit physics background. I knew I wanted to go back to school for astrophysics. It was one of those things: being in LA, everybody’s chasing their dreams, the musicians, the actors, and was like, “Cool, I would like to chase my dreams.” And so, I wanted to go back to school to study astrophysics. But my physics background wasn’t a strong. Math is not physics. So I went and got a Master’s – a research based Master’s – at Cal State Los Angeles: shout out. And then I bridged right in after graduating, I went straight into my doctorate degree. And now I study massive galaxy evolution, all the things that create them and tame their growth in the universe.

Watkins: Though we might not realize it from our local perspective in space and time, most galaxies aren’t alone in the vast expanse of space, but are connected to one or more other galaxies by gravity, or the bending of space-time. Regardless of what holds them together, these groups of galaxies can be small – such as two galaxies orbiting each other – or large, with thousands of galaxies extending for more than 10 million light years. We began our conversation by asking Arianna to tell us more about the general characteristics of galaxy clusters, as well as those that she studies in particular.

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