Oliver Newton

I'm a postdoctoral researcher at the Institut de Physique des 2 Infinis de Lyon, in France, working with Prof. Noam Libeskind. My main areas of research focus on the 'small scale' (that is, galaxies smaller than our own) and how we can use this to infer the properties of Dark Matter.

About me

I grew up in the East Midlands in the UK before pursuing my BSc and MPhys in Physics at the University of Warwick. After a year away from academic life, I moved to Durham University to work on my PhD at the Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC). I completed this in August 2019 under the supervision of Prof. Adrian Jenkins and Prof. Carlos Frenk.


Out of the office, I enjoy playing music with a variety of bands and orchestras and have done so from an early age. In that time I've had the opportunity to perform in venues across the UK and Europe, including multiple appearances in London's Royal Albert Hall. I was also incredibly fortunate to act as a trustee of the UniBrass Foundation for six years.


Primarily my research relates to the dwarf galaxies of the Milky Way as visible probes of dark matter structure. In the standard cosmological model (known as ΛCDM) dark matter is hugely influential in shaping the evolution of the Universe; indeed, we believe that it makes up ∼85% of all matter. However, we still don't know what it is. No dark matter (DM) particle has been seen directly in any detectors, so we are left to try to infer some of its properties from a mix of astrophysical observations of galaxies and advanced computer simulations.

You can see a full list of my publications here:

Satellite galaxies of the Milky Way

One major prediction of ΛCDM is that the present-day Milky Way is embedded in a DM halo which is rich with thousands of slightly smaller DM clumps, or substructures. Many — but not all — of these are expected to host faint satellite galaxies. Observational campaigns to detect some of these elusive objects have been carried out already, with further surveys planned to commence operations in the next few years. While this work is being undertaken, we can use observations from partial surveys of the sky to infer the total number and luminosity function of satellite galaxies around the Milky Way.

Warm Dark Matter

Although extremely successful, ΛCDM is not the only viable description of the Universe. One class of models known as 'warm' DM predicts that DM particles have higher thermal velocities when DM haloes form. This allows them to escape shallow gravitational potential wells and prevents the DM forming into haloes below a certain mass. In some models the cut-off occurs at the scale of dwarf galaxies. This makes the MW satellite system useful to constrain the DM properties, as a model can be feasible only if it produces enough substructure around the MW to host the observed population of satellites.

Newton et al., 2020, submitted

Enzi, Murgia, Newton et al., 2020, submitted

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    Bâtiment Paul Dirac
    4, Rue Enrico Fermi
    69622 Villeurbanne Cedex
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