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The Australian National University

Dr Christoph Federrath

PhD (Heidelberg)
Stromlo Fellow
ANU College of Science
T: +61 (0)2 6125 0217

Areas of expertise

  • Stellar Astronomy And Planetary Systems 020110
  • Galactic Astronomy 020104
  • Fluid Physics 020303

Research interests

  • The physics and chemistry of star-forming gas clouds
  • Star formation in the present-day and early Universe
  • Fluid dynamics, turbulence, magnetic fields
  • Synthetic observations and development of observational methods
  • Numerical methods and computational techniques


Christoph Federrath is Stromlo Fellow at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the Australian National University. He held postdoctoral fellowships at the Monash Centre for Astrophysics in Melbourne, the Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon, and the Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Heidelberg. He studied physics at the University of Wuerzburg from 2001 to 2007 and received a Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) from the University of Heidelberg in 2010.

Researcher's projects

Federrath's research focuses on understanding the formation of stars in the Universe. Almost everything we know about the Universe comes from looking at the stars. The formation of stars controls galaxy evolution and sets the initial conditions for planet formation. To advance our understanding of star formation, Federrath develops theoretical models and supercomputer simulations of molecular clouds, the birthplaces of stars. This involves the physics of turbulence, gravity, magnetic fields, radiation, stellar feedback and chemical evolution. An essential part of this work is to compare supercomputer simulations performed on thousands of computer cores to real observations in galactic clouds. The ultimate goal of Federrath's research is to establish a model that combines all the relevant physics and chemistry to enable self-consistent comparisons with observations and to provide powerful predictions for how galaxies, stars and planets form in the Universe.

Research group

We study the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies and planets. For this we use a mix of theory, analytics, supercomputer simulations and comparisons with observations. We also develop new numerical algorithms for star and galaxy formation, turbulence, magneto-hydrodynamic dynamos, and fluid dynamics in general.

Current and former group members

Available student projects

Below is a list of available research projects suitable for all levels (undergrad/honours/masters/PhD/postdoc). If you are interested in joining our group please contact

  • "The role of turbulence for the stellar initial mass function"
  • "Comparing the instability parameter of star-forming and AGN/shock galaxies"
  • "Simulating the formation of massive stars via strong magnetic fields"
  • "The world's biggest turbulence simulations"
  • "The turbulent dynamo in astrophysical accretion discs"
  • "Reconstructing the 3D density distribution of the interstellar medium from 2D observations"
  • "The importance of supernova explosions for the driving of turbulence"
  • "Density thresholds for star formation: theory, simulations, and observations"
  • "Systematic comparison of filament and structure detection algorithms"
  • "Making a cosmic map of gravitational waves from black hole mergers" (with Dr. Philip Taylor)
  • "A new star formation recipe for semi-analytic models of galaxy evolution" (with Prof. Darren Croton and Dr. Adam Stevens)
  • "The origin of a characteristic stellar mass" (with Prof. Mark Krumholz)
  • "The density PDF of atomic clouds observed towards the Galactic Centre" (with Prof. Naomi McClure-Griffiths)
  • "Comparing star formation laws: predicting gas surface densities in the SAMI galaxy survey" (with Prof. Lisa Kewley)
  • "Comparing equation of state models for radiation feedback from stars" (with Prof. Mark Krumholz)
  • "Mixy or Squashy - the turbulence driving in the Galactic Centre compared to the Galactic Disc" (with Dr. Thushara Pillai and Dr. Jens Kauffmann)
  • "Star cluster formation with outflow and radiation feedback" (with Prof. Robi Banerjee)
  • "The stellar velocity structure function of young star clusters" (with Prof. Michael Ireland)
  • "The density PDF of atomic and ionized carbon in the Milky Way" (with Prof. Michael Burton)
  • "Velocity-coherent interstellar filaments" (with Dr. Jouni Kainulainen)
  • "Testing the SFR-HCN luminosity relation" (with Prof. Mark Krumholz)
  • "Filament detection in atomic clouds" (with Prof. Naomi McClure-Griffiths)
  • "Comparing mass-weighted and luminosity-weighted metallicity measurements (cosmological simulations vs. observations)" (with Dr. Philip Taylor)
  • "Testing the laws of star formation in high-redshift dense gas discs observed with ALMA" (with Dr. Mark Swinbank and Dr. Elisabete Da Cunha)
  • "Structure functions of the world's biggest simulations of supersonic turbulence" (with Dr. Supratik Banerjee)
  • "The column density PDF of dust, atomic and molecular tracers in galaxies" (with Dr. Brent Groves)
  • "Wave turbulence in the world's largest simulations of supersonic turbulence" (with Dr. Sebastien Galtier)
  • "The magneto-rotational instability during the formation of proto-stellar discs" (with Dr. Ross Parkin)
  • "The density and current sheet structures in compressible simulations of MHD turbulence" (with Dr. Valdimir Zhdankin)
  • "The density PDF as observed by the Cassini spacecraft of the Saturn magneto-sheath" (with Dr. Lina Hadid)
  • "The effects of AGB wind enrichment during globular cluster formation" (with Dr. Fabiola Marino and Dr. Antonino Milone)
  • "The turbulence driving in simulations of molecular cloud formation in colliding flows" (with Prof. Robi Banerjee and Dr. Bastian Koertgen)


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  20 October 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers