My Work

My work aims to bridge the gap between theoretical simulations and observational data in cosmology. By pushing the observational boundaries to higher redshifts, I strive to better understand the evolutionary pathways of massive cosmic structures like proto-clusters. I specialize in the physics and dynamics of the intracluster medium and the interplay between galaxies and their surroundings. I like to work with and develop funky techniques that give new insights into my field of interest. Some of these techniques are:

Below, you can find an overview of all the work I am involved in.

A high spatial resolution view of the hot gas in the ICM. In blue, we show how ALMA can resolve the inner regions of the ACT (yellow) detected galaxy cluster.


The Representative Cluster Evolution SZ Survey (ReCESS) is a project that studies the intracluster medium (ICM) in galaxy clusters at high redshifts (z > 1.25) using the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effect at arcsecond scale resolution. By examining these high-z clusters,  initially selected throuh ACT observations, I aim to study their dynamical states, morphology, and evolutionary processes -- as I explain in this talk.

Recently, we secured over 80 hours of observing time on the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) to systematically follow up on all z > 1.25 clusters detected by ACT. These observations will allow us to study clusters during their most active growth periods and address systematics in cluster cosmology measurements at these uncharted epochs.



Directly comparing simulations with observations has always been challenging, particularly for sub-millimeter observations. Astronomers often require telescopes larger than 50 meters or must rely on interferometry to resolve their objects of interest. This complexity, combined with atmospheric noise, corrupts data and limits our understanding of the Universe. To address these issues, we developed a novel simulator for forecasting sub-millimeter observations. This tool helps bridge the gap between theory and observation, forecasts future observations, and links telescope design directly to scientific feasibility. For a detailed description of the tool and tutorials on how to use it, please refer to my paper and visit


Here's a sketch of how Maria operates. The virtual telescope consists of four parts: a celestial background, a location and time-specific evolving atmosphere, a telescope and instrument design, and a scanning strategy.

Figure from: Harikane+2022

Beyond the epoch of Reionization,

I am intrigued by what JWST is bringing us in terms of detections and the characterization of galaxies around the epoch of reionization. However, JWST is not the only telescope that can detect light from only 100 Myr after the Big Bang. ALMA has access to the FIR lines, crucial for deriving the properties that drive the formation of the earliest galaxies.


Prussic acids at z>2,

What drives star formation in starburst galaxies around the cosmic noon? That is the question I tried to answer in one of my master's theses. In this master thesis (supervised by J. Hodge and M. Rybak), I developed an advanced data analysis technique that searches for weak spectral lines in distant galaxies through a matched filter in the uv-plane. Here, I detected the first HCO+(4-3) line in a high redshift SMG. This detection was visible in the image plane with a resolution of 20 mas!


My work is continued in a series of papers that will characterize how dense gases are manifested in multiple starburst galaxies around the cosmic noon. This will help us understand what fuels star formation in these extreme galaxies.


We observe sloshing (major drift motion of the ICM) around the cool-core cluster RXC J2014.8.

Local Cool-Cores,

Cool cores are galaxy clusters for which the X-ray emission strongly peaks in the center. This would suggest that the core of this type of cluster of galaxies cools rapidly through radiative cooling and hence their name. However, characterizing the inner regions is not as straightforward as one might think.

Through multi-wavelength observations (radio, molecular lines, SZ-effect, optical, and X-ray), we try to get a complete view of all the mechanics at play in the inner regions of cool cores. This will give insights into the coupling between processes such as cooling flows, sloshing, and AGN feedback from the smallest to the largest scales. Check, for instance, this talk I gave about RXC-J2014.8, the strongest cool-core in REXCESS.


Toy Modeling Galaxy Clusters,

To enable precision cosmology with future survey telescopes, the community needs to understand the intrinsic scatter in the objects they observe. In my master's thesis (supervised by H. Hoekstra and S. Debackere), I looked at how small-scale clumping in the ICM affects the X-ray luminosity - halo mass relationship. To study systematics, I created a phenomenological model, which was based on hydrodynamical simulations, that creates mock observations of galaxy clusters in the X-ray for varying clumping properties. If you want to know the results, just check out the thesis, which is attached below!


The Green Bank Telescope, located at Arizona, USA. 

Requesting Observation Time

As an observer, a large part of my job is writing proposals. I try to provide compelling science cases so that my targets are observed by world-leading facilities such as ALMA and the Green Bank Telescope. Hence, over the last two years, I have developed and led (as PI) over seven proposals and contributed to at least 20 others as co-investigator. For example, I contributed to a 2021 ALMA Directors Discretionary Time proposal targeting the proposed youngest-ever galaxy. Furthermore, I was the main PI of an ALMA Large program leading the ACT collaboration to propose a ~400-hour ALMA+ACA endeavour, showing my drive to explore new scientific ideas and that I am not afraid to take on large projects