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Thomas Connor

Photo of Thomas Connor


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 169-327

Pasadena, CA 91109



Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Structure of the Universe


Thomas Connor is an NPP fellow studying the X-ray properties of supermassive black holes in the first billion years of the Universe. Born in Appalachian Ohio, Thomas attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio for undergrad, before heading to Michigan State University for his graduate education. He earned his PhD in 2016, with a thesis on performing precision photometry in the crowded fields of galaxy clusters. In 2016, he moved to Pasadena to become a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Observatories. There, Thomas used multi-slit spectra to map out clusters of galaxies and started working on X-ray observations of z>6 quasars. Of particular note, he was responsible for the X-ray analysis of ULAS J1342+0928; these data are of the most distant non-transient object observed in X-rays to date! Dr. Connor has extensive experience in optical observations of galaxies as well as in X-ray observations of clusters and of individual sources. While his research covers a variety of topics, they all revolve around a single theme: how was the Universe  built?


  • PhD, Astronomy & Astrophysics — Michigan State University (2016)
  • MS, Astronomy & Astrophysics — Michigan State University (2013)
  • BS Astronomy (cum laude) — Case Western Reserve University (2011)

Professional Experience

  • 2016-2019: Postdoctoral Fellow, Carnegie Observatories
  • 2011-2016: Graduate Research Assistant, Michigan State University

Community Service

  • AAS Early Career Advisory Board
  • Carnegie Science Postdoc Liaison
  • AAS Chambliss Award Judge
  • HST Proposal Reviewer

Research Interests

  • X-ray properties of Quasars in the first billion years of the universe
  • Galaxy evolution in and around clusters and groups of galaxies
  • Large-scale structure of the Universe; observations of the cosmic web

Selected Awards

  • Kaplan Award (2016)
  • Best Graduate TA Award (2012)

Selected Publications

  • Connor et al., “Two X-ray Sources in a z~6.2 Quasar/Galaxy Merger”, 2019d, ApJL, submitted
  • Connor et al., “COS Observations of the Cosmic Web: A Search for the Cooler Components of a Hot, X-ray Identified Filament”, 2019c, ApJL, accepted
  • Connor et al., “Assembling a RELIC at Redshift 1: Spectroscopic Observations of Galaxies in the RELICS Cluster SPT-CLJ0615-5746.” 2019b, ApJ, 878, 66
  • Connor et al., “On the Origin of the Scatter in the Red Sequence: An Analysis of Four CLASH Clusters.” 2019a, ApJ, 875, 16
  • Connor et al., “Wide-Field Optical Spectroscopy of Abell 133: A Search for Filaments Reported in X-ray Observations.” 2018, ApJ, 867, 25
  • Bañados, Connor, et al., “Chandra X-Rays from the Redshift 7.54 Quasar ULAS J1342+0928.” 2018, ApJL, 856, 25
  • Connor et al., “Crowded Field Galaxy Photometry: Precision Colors in the CLASH Clusters.” 2017, ApJ, 848, 37
  • Donahue, Connor, et al., “Observations of Ly alpha and O VI: Signatures of Cooling and Star Formation in a Massive Central Cluster Galaxy.” 2017, ApJ, 835, 216
  • Donahue, Connor, et al., “Ultraviolet Morphology and Unobscured UV Star Formation Rates of CLASH Brightest Cluster Galaxies.” 2015, ApJ, 805, 177
  • Connor et al., “Scaling Relations and X-Ray Properties of Moderate-luminosity Galaxy Clusters from 0.3 < z < 0.6 with XMM-Newton.” 2014, ApJ, 794, 48