Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz
Carnegie Centenary Professor 2016, University of St Andrews
Professor Lin's principal research interests are in the origin of the solar system, star formation, astrophysical fluid dynamics, dynamics of stellar clusters, structure of galaxies, active galactic nuclei, and galaxy formation. With graduate student Kim Supulver, Lin is currently involved in experiments to determine the necessary conditions for cohesive collisions in the context of growth of meteoric aggregates. He has developed a comprehensive theory for the structure and evolution of the primordial solar nebula and carried out extensive numerical simulations to study the growth of planetesimals and gas accretion by protogiant planets. Currently, Lin and graduate student Geoff Bryden are engaged in an in-depth analysis of the effects of thermal convection, surface irradiation, infall, and warp on protostellar disks. These analyses are also applied to theories of accretion disks in the context of interacting binary stars and active galactic nuclei. Lin is currently formulating an extensive scenario for the formation of massive black holes in active galactic nuclei as well as the formation and evolution of gaseous accretion disks around them.
Another area of Lin's research is development of a theory for the formation of first-generation stars in globular clusters and galaxies. Lin's main objective is to identify the important physical processes that regulate the fragmentation and the initial mass function of protostellar objects. With former graduate student Stephen Murray, Lin is formulating the first physical model that can provide a quantitative estimate for the rate of star formation in a collapsing protogalactic cloud. This scenario is also applied to study the formation of globular clusters.
In the context of stellar dynamics, Lin is investigating the tidal disruption of satellite dwarf galaxies in the Local Group. In close collaboration with observational colleagues Burton Jones and Arnold Klemola, Lin is evaluating the extent of the galactic halo from the proper motion of the Magellanic Clouds. They are also examining the possibility that the satellite dwarf galaxies may be the debris of tidal interaction between the Magellanic Cloud and the Milky Way.