Tyrone Woods

Roles and responsibilities

Astrophysicist, Plaskett fellow, and Science Co-lead and Science Planning Tools Lead for the Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and UV Research (CASTOR). Research expertise on cosmic explosions, interacting stars, supernovae, the interstellar medium, and the formation & growth of supermassive black holes in the early Universe.

Current research and/or projects

Discovering the origin of supermassive black holes: We now know that a supermassive black hole lies at the heart of every galaxy, including our own. We still don't understand, however, how such black holes, with masses up to a billion times the mass of our Sun, could have formed. To solve this problem, we're combining cutting-edge computer simulations of the primordial Universe with observations from next-generation space telescopes including the James Webb Space Telescope.

Uncovering the causes of cosmic explosions: We still don't know why some white dwarfs, the otherwise stable end states of stars like our own Sun, sometimes explode as cataclysmic events called Type Ia supernovae, that briefly outshine the galaxies in which they reside.  By combining observations from telescopes on the ground and in space with detailed numerical simulations, we're piecing together the origins of long-ago exploded supernovae, and understanding more about how they came to be and their critical role in the evolving composition of the Universe.

The next generation in Canadian Space Astronomy: Canada is leading the way forward for the next generation of UV/optical observations from space, with the development of the Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and UV Research (CASTOR). With a proposed launch by the end of the decade, CASTOR will be a Canadian-led flagship space telescope. With Hubble-like resolution over a field of view 100x larger than Hubble's, CASTOR will be humanity's foremost eye on the sky in the UV, exploring the births of stars, the lives of galaxies, and the growth of supermassive black holes over cosmic timescales.


2011–15 PhD Physics, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics / Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
· Primary Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Marat Gilfanov
· Thesis: “Emission line diagnostics of the progenitors of type Ia supernovae”
· Honours: Graduated magna cum laude Munich, Germany

2009–11 MSc Physics, University of Alberta
· Supervisor: Dr. Natalia Ivanova
· Thesis: “Selected topics in the evolution of binary stars”
· Societies: Graduate Physics Student Association (elected student representative 2009–11) Edmonton, Canada

2005–09 BSc Honours Astrophysics, University of Alberta Edmonton, Canada

Key publications

Invited Review Articles

  1. Woods, T. E., Agarwal, B., Bromm, V., Bunker, A., Chen, K.-J., Chon, S., … Yoshida, N. (2019). Titans of the early Universe: The Prato statement on the origin of the first supermassive black holesPublications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, 36, E027.

Journal Articles    

  1. Latif, M. A., Whalen, D. J., Kochfar, S., Herrington, N. P., & Woods, T. E. (2022). Turbulent cold flows gave birth to the first quasarsNature, 607, 48–51.
  2. Woods, T. E., Willott, C. J., Regan, J. A., Wise, J. H., Downes, T. P., Norman, M. L., & O’Shea, B. W. (2021). Some first stars were red: Detecting signatures of massive Population III formation through long-term stochastic color variationsThe Astrophysical Journal Letters, 920, L22.
  3. Woods, T. E., Patrick, S., Elford, J. S., Whalen, D. J., & Heger, A. (2021). On the evolution of supermassive primordial stars in cosmological flowsThe Astrophysical Journal, 915, 110.
  4. Woods, T. E., Heger, A., & Haemmerlé, L. (2020). On monolithic supermassive starsMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 494, 2236–2243.
  5. Woods, T. E., Ghavamian, P., Badenes, C., & Gilfanov, M. (2018). Balmer-dominated shocks exclude hot progenitors for many Type Ia supernovaeThe Astrophysical Journal, 863, 120.
  6. Woods, T. E., Ghavamian, P., Badenes, C., & Gilfanov, M. (2017). No hot and luminous progenitor for Tycho’s supernovaNature Astronomy, 1, 800–804.
  7. Woods, T. E., Heger, A., Whalen, D. J., Haemmerlé, L., & Klessen, R. S. (2017). On the maximum mass of accreting primordial supermassive starsThe Astrophysical Journal Letters, 842, L6.
  8. Woods, T. E., & Gilfanov, M. (2016). Where are all of the nebulae ionized by supersoft X-ray sources? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 455, 1770–1781.
  9. Woods, T. E., & Gilfanov, M. (2014). Emission-line diagnostics to constrain high-temperature populations in early-type galaxiesMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 439, 2351–2363.
  10. Woods, T. E., & Gilfanov, M. (2013). He II recombination lines as a test of the nature of SN Ia progenitors in elliptical galaxiesMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 432, 1640–1650.
  11. Woods, T. E., Ivanova, N., van der Sluys, M. V., & Chaichenets, S. (2012). On the formation of double white dwarfs through stable mass transfer and a common envelopeThe Astrophysical Journal, 744, 12.
  12. Woods, T. E., & Ivanova, N. (2011). Can we trust models for adiabatic mass loss? The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 739, L48.
Tyrone Woods

Tyrone Woods

Assistant Research Officer
Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics
5071 West Saanich Road
Victoria, British Columbia V9E 2E7
Preferred language: English
Other(s): French
Telephone: 250-483-7992


Sciences, Physics, Space sciences, Astronomy, Observational astronomy, Space technology