Mordecai-Mark Mac Low

Curator and Professor, Department of Astrophysics, Division of Physical Sciences
Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School



  • University of Colorado at Boulder, Ph.D., 1989
  • University of Colorado at Boulder, M.A., 1985
  • Princeton University, A.B., 1983

Research Interests

Dr. Mac Low's work focuses on understanding the formation of planets, stars, and galaxies. Working with students and colleagues, he has developed numerical models at different physical scales to attack these problems. At the smallest scales, he is studying the formation in protoplanetary disks of the millimeter-sized glassy beads known as chondrules that form half the mass of the most primitive Solar System meteorites. Still within these disks, he studies the formation of planetesimals from rocks, and the migration of planets through the gas disk. At scales of less than one light year, he has simulated the behavior of self-gravitating, supersonic, magnetized turbulence to understand the formation of the dense cloud cores in which protostars are observed, and has modeled the expansion of ionized regions in such turbulence.  At scales of hundreds to thousands of light years, he is studying the influence of multiple supernova explosions on the interstellar gas, and how clouds of star-forming molecular gas form.  Finally, at the galactic scale of tens of thousands of light years, he studies the large-scale formation of stars in galaxies. 

Dr. Mac Low serves as an advisor for the HPC facilities development and expansion. His research group relies on computational modeling using gas dynamical and magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) simulations to study the formation of planets, and stars, and the structure of the interstellar gas, with applications to galactic winds and galaxy formation.


Division of Physical Sciences

Department of Astrophysics

Computational Sciences

Richard Gilder Graduate School

Mordecai-Mark Mac Low's website



Chira, R.-A., Ibáñez-Mejía, J.C., M.-M. Mac Low, and Henning, Th. 2019. How do velocity structure functions trace gas dynamics in simulated molecular clouds? Astronomy & Astrophysics 630: A97 (21 pp).

Beane, A., Sanderson, R., Ness, M. K., Johnston, K. V., Filho, D. G., Mac Low, M.-M., Anglés-Alcázar, D., Hogg, D. W., and Laporte, C. F. P. 2019. The Implications of Local Fluctuations in the Galactic Midplane for Dynamical Analysis in the Gaia Era. The Astrophysical Journal 883: 103 (17 pp.).

Secunda, A., Bellovary, J., Mac Low, M.-M., Ford, K. E. S., McKernan, B., Leigh, N., and Lyra, W. 2019. Orbital Migration of Interacting Stellar Mass Black Holes in Disks around Supermassive Black Holes. The Astrophysical Journal 878: 85 (18 pp).

Gent, F. A., Mac Low, M.-M., Käypylä, M. J., Sarson, G. R., and Hollins, J. F. 2019. Modelling supernova driven turbulence,”  Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics 114: 77-105.

Emerick, A., Bryan, G. L., and Mac Low, M.-M. 2019. Simulating an Isolated Dwarf Galaxy with Energetic Feedback and Chemical Yields from Individual Stars. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 482: 1304–1329.


Emerick, A., Bryan, G. L., Mac Low, M.-M., Côté, B., Johnston, K. V., & O’Shea, B. 2018. Metal Mixing and Ejection in Dwarf Galaxies is Dependent on Nucleosynthetic Source. The Astrophysical Journal 869: 64 (15 pp).

Yang, C.-C., Mac Low, M.-M., & Johansen, A. 2018. Diffusion and Concentration of Solids in the Dead Zone of a Protoplanetary Disk. The Astrophysical Journal 868: 27 (19 pp).

Emerick, A., Bryan, G. L., & Mac Low, M.-M. 2018. Stellar Radiation is Critical for Regulating Star Formation and Driving Outflows in Low Mass Dwarf Galaxies. The Astrophysical Journal (Letters) 865: L22 (7 pp).

McKernan, B., Ford, K. E. S., Bellovary, J., Leigh, N. W. C., Haiman, Z., Kocsis, B., Lyra, W., Mac Low, M.-M., Metzger, B., O’Dowd, M., Endlich, S., & Rosen, D. J. 2018. On stellar-mass black hole mergers in AGN disks detectable with LIGO. The Astrophysical Journal 866: 66 (7 pp).

De Pree, C. G., Galván-Madrid, R., Goss, W. M., Klessen, R. S., Mac Low, M.-M., Peters, T., Wilner, D., Bates, J., Melo, T., Presler-Marshall, B., & Webb-Forgus, R. 2018. Flux Density Variations at 3.6 cm in the Massive Star-Forming Region W49A. The Astrophysical Journal 863: L9 (6 pp).

Hill, A. S., Mac Low, M.-M., Gatto, A., Ibáñez-Mejía, J.C. 2018. Effect of the heating rate on the stability of the three-phase interstellar medium. The Astrophysical Journal 862: 55 (16 pp).

Fujita, A., and M.-M. Mac Low. 2018. Cosmic ray driven outflows in an ultraluminous galaxy. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 477: 531–538.

Hubbard, A., M-M. Mac Low, and D.S. Ebel. 2018. Dust concentration and chondrule formation. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 53: 1507–1515.

Ibáñez-Mejía, J.C., M.-M. Mac Low, R.S. Klessen, and C. Baczynski. 2017. Feeding versus falling: the growth and collapse of molecular clouds in a turbulent interstellar medium. The Astrophysical Journal 850: 62.

Reissl, S., R.S. Klessen, M.-M. Mac Low, and E.W. Pellegrini. 2018. Spectral shifting strongly constrains molecular cloud disruption by radiation pressure on dust. Astronomy & Astrophysics 611: A70.


Hord, B., Lyra, W., Flock, M., Turner, N. J., and Mac Low, M.-M. 2017. On shocks driven by high-mass planets in radiatively inefficient disks. III. Observational signatures in thermal emission and scattered light. The Astrophysical Journal 849: 2 (15 pp).

Ibáñez-Mejía, J.C., M.-M. Mac Low, C. Baczynski, and R.S. Klessen. 2016. Gravitational contraction versus supernova driving and the origin of the velocity dispersion-size relation in molecular clouds. The Astrophysical Journal 824: 41.

Mac Low, M.-M., A. Burkert, and J.C. Ibáñez-Mejía. 2017. Fast molecular cloud destruction requires fast cloud formation. The Astrophysical Journal (Letters) 847: L10.

Mamikonyan, E. N., McMillan, S. L. W., Vesperini, E., & Mac Low, M.-M. 2017. Evolution of Star Clusters in Time-Variable Tidal Fields,”  The Astrophysical Journal 837: 70 (12 pp).

Teaching Experience

Faculty Appointments

  • AMNH Masters of Arts in Teaching Program
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Astronomy, Columbia University, 2007-Present
  • Visiting Research Professor, Department of Physics, Drexel University, 2012-present

Courses Taught

  • Interstellar Medium and Star Formation, Graduate Course, Columbia University, Spring 2002
  • Space Systems, Master of Arts in Teaching Program, Fall 2012, Winter 2013

Graduate Advisees

  • Colin McNally, Columbia University
  • Christine Simpson, co-advisor, Columbia University
  • Jeffrey Oishi, University of Virginia at Charlottesville
  • Moo Kwang Ryan Joung, Columbia University
  • Yuexing Li, Columbia University
  • Akimi Fujita, Columbia University
  • Guillermo Garcia-Segura, University of La Laguna (Canary Islands, Spain)
  • Chao-Chin Yang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Graduate Committees

  • Colin McNally, Columbia U. (chair) 
  • Nick Stroud, Teachers College, Columbia U. 
  • Christine Simpson, Columbia U. (cochair) 
  • Andreas Svedin, Columbia U. 
  • Destry Saul, Columbia U. 
  • Munier Salem, Columbia U.
  • Rachel Connolly, Teacher’s College, Columbia University
  • Jeffrey Oishi, University of Virginia at Charlottesville (chair)
  • Moo Kwang Ryan Joung, Columbia University (chair)
  • Yuexing Li, Columbia University (chair)
  • Akimi Fujita, Columbia University (chair)
  • Shikui Tang, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • Chao-Chin Yang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (chair)