Skip to main content

Aaron Smith

Assistant Professor - Physics

Join us in Computational Astrophysics at UTD! Our team pioneers groundbreaking computational tools and theories to tackle key questions in astrophysics and cosmology. Explore the mysteries of high-redshift galaxies and engage in cutting-edge research!

SCI 3.118

Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Astronomy
The University of Texas at Austin - 2018
B.S. - Physics and Mathematics
Brigham Young University - 2012

Research Areas

Technical Research Summary
A major theme of my research is to understand the nature of the first galaxies and the ensuing cosmic phase transition known as the Epoch of Reionization. I lead the THESAN and THESAN-ZOOMS ( simulation campaigns to produce realistic galaxies and synthetic observations, enabling a more fruitful exploitation of current and forthcoming data. I am the author of the state-of-the-art COLT ( Monte Carlo radiative transfer and AREPO-MCRT moving-mesh radiation-hydrodynamics codes. My research spans multiple subfields in astrophysics and provides strong synergy with theory and observation.


The thesan project: Connecting ionized bubble sizes to their local environments during the Epoch of Reionization 2024 - Journal Article
The thesan project: public data release of radiation-hydrodynamic simulations matching reionization-era JWST observations 2024 - Journal Article
Simulating ionization feedback from young massive stars: Impact of numerical resolution 2023 - Journal Article
TODDLERS: A new UV–mm emission library for star-forming regions – I. Integration with SKIRT and public release 2023 - Journal Article
TODDLERS: a new UV–mm emission library for star-forming regions – I. Integration with SKIRT and public release 2023 - Journal Article
thesan-hr: how does reionization impact early galaxy evolution? 2023 - Journal Article
Efficient simulations of ionized ISM emission lines: a detailed comparison between the FIRE high-redshift suite and observations 2023 - Journal Article
The thesan project: Lyman-α emitter luminosity function calibration 2023 - Journal Article


NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) - The University of Texas at Austin [2014]


Assistant Professor, Physics
The University of Texas at Dallas [2023–Present]
ITC Postdoctoral Fellow
Harvard University [2022–2023]
NASA Einstein Fellow
Massachusetts Institute of Technology [2018–2022]

News Articles

JWST’s Glimpses of Early Galaxies Could Shed Light on Dark Matter
A portion of the dwarf galaxy Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte (WLM) captured by the James Webb Space Telescope’s Near-Infrared Camera. Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/Kristen McQuinn (RU) (science); Zolt G. Levay (STScI) (image processing) The THESAN-HR simulations were featured in by Scientific American, exploring how the James Webb Space Telescope might be able to distinguish between competing dark matter models by studying primordial dwarf galaxies.
New Record-Breaking Simulation Sheds Light on ‘Cosmic Dawn’
Evolution of the intergalactic medium during reionization from THESAN with caleidoscopic zoom-in regions of a galaxy. The THESAN simulations were featured in Scientific American, highlighting the capabilities of the new large-volume cosmological radiation-hydrodynamic simulations of the Epoch of Reionization.


Galactic Winds Unveiled: Leveraging Cloud Simulations with Radiative Transfer to Constrain Feedback
TBD - Space Telescope Science Institute [2023/06–2023/05]
Hubble Space Telescope: Cycle 31 Program HST-AR-17559
Confronting Lyman-alpha radiation pressure in galaxy formation simulations
$308,200 - NASA Astrophysics Theory Program (ATP) grant (ROSES-2019) [2020/09–2024/08]
THESAN-ZOOMS: RHD modeling of high-redshift galaxies
45M cpu hours - SuperMUC-NG at LRZ [2021/07–2024/06]
The THESAN Project: Cosmic Reionization with Arepo-RT
51M cpu hours - SuperMUC-NG at LRZ [2019/07–2022/06]
Detailed feedback experiments for next generation galaxy formation simulations
6M cpu hours - NSF XSEDE for Stampede2 (TACC) and Comet (SDSC) [2020/09–2021/08]