About the Madigan Group

My group studies all things eccentric (hover over image for names). We are particularly interested in relativistic stellar and gas dynamics near massive black holes, with applications to our Galactic center, the Andromeda (M31) nucleus and post-starburst galaxies. Some of us work on the dynamics of dark matter in disk galaxies and on globular clusters. We're also interested in the strange orbits of icy bodies in the outer solar system, and exoplanet dynamics!

Research Areas

  • The orbits of icy minor planets beyond Neptune are doing something very strange: they all tilt and pitch in similar ways, and maybe even cluster together on the sky. In a 2016 paper, my collaborator Mike McCourt and I show that when gravitational forces between minor planets on eccentric orbits are included in N-body simulations, the orbits incline rapidly off the disk plane, and tilt and pitch in exactly the same way.

  • The physics of how gas accretes onto supermassive black holes is hugely important in astrophysics. It is a difficult topic of research however, involving three-dimensional, hot, magnetic plasmas.

  • The double nucleus of the Andromeda galaxy has been a puzzle since its discovery by balloon-borne experiments in the early 1970s. It is best modeled as a single eccentric disk of stars, which orbits a massive black hole.

In the Spotlight

poster for the speaker series
September 28, 2021: JILA JEDI partnering with Pretty Brainy in a new speaker series

JILA JEDI is partnering with Pretty Brainy, a nonprofit organization in northern Colorado through a speaker series that encourages women ages 11 and up to pursue science careers. This speaker series hosts 5 JILAns, including JILA Fellow Anne-Marie Madigan. 

You can register for the speaker series at this link. The first event begins 10/5, and the last event is 12/14. 

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May 25, 2021: Ann-Marie Madigan takes home prestigious award for research in dynamical astronomy

CU Boulder astrophysicist Ann-Marie Madigan has taken home a prestigious prize in recognition of her research exploring the dynamics of objects in space—from stars circling black holes to icy dwarf planets in the outer solar system.

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Loran Matilsky and Heather Wernke
December 04, 2020: Loren Matilsky and Heather Wernke win 2020 R. N. Thomas Award

The Richard Nelson Thomas Award was established by the friends and family of R.N. "Dick" Thomas to provide an annual award to the year's most outstanding graduate student in astrophysics. Each year, the JILA astrophysical faculty nominates outstanding students and vote to determine the recipient of the award. 

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October 15, 2018: Ann-Marie Madigan named 2018 Packard Fellow

A CU Boulder researcher who investigates the unusual behavior of icy objects at the outermost edges of the solar system has been named a 2018 Packard Fellow. Ann-Marie Madigan is one of 18 scientists and engineers receiving this honor, which is handed out annually by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The award comes with a no-strings-attached, 5-year grant of $875,000 to support “the blue-sky thinking” of researchers across the country.

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JILA Address

We are located at JILA: A joint institute of NIST and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Map | JILA Phone: 303-492-7789 | Address: 440 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309