Karen Olsen

Post Doctoral Scholars
TEMPE Campus


Karen completed her PhD in Astronomy in May 2015 at the Dark Cosmology Centre in Copenhagen with specialization in two topics: 1) AGN classification of massive z=1.5-2.5 galaxies using CHANDRA X-ray archival data and 2) Simulation of far-infrared emission lines with the method SÍGAME that she developed for that purpose. Her supervisors were Sune Toft and Thomas Greve, and she started international collaborations during a 4 months stay at the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona working with Desika Narayanan and Robert Thompson. While focusing most of her PhD on modeling the interstellar medium, she frequently participated in schools and conferences to gain experience in radio observations. Before Copenhagen, Karen did her bachelor project at Aarhus University where she observed and studied stellar spectra in order to characterize detected exoplanets. 


PhD in Astronomy, 2012-2015, Dark Cosmology Centre, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Master of Science (astronomy), 2009-2012, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Bachelor of Science (physics), 2005-2008, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Research Interests

Karen P. Olsens main research interests focus on the Interstellar Medium (ISM) of galaxies, i.e. that gas out of which stars are formed. With galaxy simulations and sub-grid modeling, Karen is trying to uncover the crucial role that amount and properties of the ISM play for the evolution of a galaxy. She compares her results with observations of the ISM, by calculating emission lines in infrared that observers detect and comparing with existing data when available, or otherwise making predictions for future observations. In particular at high redshift, ISM conditions of star-forming galaxies are poorly constrained by observations, and Karens main goal is to improve on the model predictions for these galaxies.


Research Group

As a SESE fellow, Karen will be working on bridging the gap between observations and modeling, mentored by Sangeeta Malhotra and Rogier Windhorst. On the modeling side, she will be improving on a method called S�GAME which she created during her PhD. On the observational side, she is involved in observing and analyzing the line emission from the extremely lensed z=2 (HELLO) galaxy sample (PI: S. Malhotra) and writing proposals for NOEMA, JVLA and ALMA.


SImulator of GAlaxy Millimeter/submillimeter Emission (SIGAME): CO Emission from Massive z=2 Main Sequence Galaxies, 2016, accepted for publication in MNRAS, Olsen, K P, Greve, T R, Brinch, C, Sommer-Larsen, J, Rasmussen, J, Toft, S, Zirm, A

SImulator of GAlaxy Millimeter/submillimeter Emission (SIGAME): The [CII]-SFR Relationship of Massive z=2 Main Sequence Galaxies, 2015, ApJ 814 76, Olsen, K P, Greve, T R, Narayanan, D, Thompson, R, Toft, S, Brinch, C

Evidence for Widespread Active Galactic Nucleus Activity among Massive Quiescent Galaxies at z ~ 2, 2013, ApJ 764 4, Olsen, K P, Rasmussen, J, Toft, S, Zirm, A

My thesis: Observing and Simulating Galaxy Evolution - from X-ray to Millimeter Wavelengths