Meng Yang


This photo was shot at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, where I had a working visit and started to work on galaxy orbits.

  • BORN 1990, Dalian, Liaoning, China
  • WORKED Beijing, China; St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

Artistic Connections

I was involved in the Shine Event which combines science and art and deliver to the public. The project was organized by my supervisor and I was encouraged to join. I took part in the Explorathon-Shine Event on 29/09/18 in Dundee, and the Shine Opera on 25/10/18 in St Andrews.


Title:  Galaxy Morphology
Composed by: Music Students from VIEWFORTH HIGH SCHOOL, Kirkcaldy
Written in: January 2019
For: Players from  Kirkcaldy Orchestral Society, voices & piano (NB we don’t have all the live recordings so some are created from digital samples).
First Performed: Kirkcaldy Old Kirk, Feb 22nd, 2019 as part of “ECHOES FAE FIFE” by ELECTRIC VOICE THEATRE

This is a suite of 4 pieces based on studies made by Meng Yang. Galaxy morphology is about the shapes of each galaxy and the temperatures of the way each spiral orbits and how they move in space.

“I was really glad to hear four pieces of music made from my own work! I was amazed at their imagination. Scientists can explain various morphologies of galaxies with simple and clear ideas of orbits, which I think is the charm of science.” Meng Yang

Galaxy Morphology 1
Galaxies by Annabell Laverick for  solo voice, choir & piano Performed by Annabell Laverick (solo voice), Brian Beaton (piano) and Viewforth Chorus.

“The song was so touching and I was deeply touched!” Meng Yang

I started by looking at the research and creating lyrics that worked well with it.  This became the chorus for my song. I then looked at some poems about galaxies to get some ideas for lyrics for the verses.  The chords used are repetitive to make it sound like the spirals of the galaxies.  The extra voices used create an echo-like style of space. A L

Galaxy Morphology 2
The Space Bar by Ally Carr  for Clarinet, French Horn, Violin & Cello

Stars orbit around the centre of the galaxy, orbits can be cold, warm or hot. My idea was based on the warm orbit. My idea started with playing notes and making them spiral with different branches to try and create the image of a warm orbit.

Galaxy Morphology 3
Stars of the World by Kimberley McCabe for Clarinet, French Horn, Trumpet & Tuba (digital samples mix)

I took the way each spiral orbits and used it to change the speed of each section of music. I then took the different shapes of each type of galaxy and I put each orbit speed to a specific galaxy section.

Galaxy Morphology 4
Orbits made of stars  by Megan Simpson for 2 violins & cello

I took inspiration from the three different spirals: – cold, warm and hot. I used these to create the music by making sections in for each spiral. I decided to make the cold cello to make it seem slower and darker, then I made warm and hot violins to show that it’s getting faster and higher to make the different sections more defined.


I graduated from the Department of Physics, Tsinghua University. Then I continued my MSc in Astrophysics in Tsinghua University as well.



I am a PhD student working on galaxy dynamics. I make use of the motion of stars and gas in galaxies to study galaxy properties, such as the dark matter distribution.

Scientific Achievements

I am now working on the dark matter distribution of galaxies. With the help of dynamical modelling, we can probe the dark matter distribution with stellar and gas motions in galaxies. The dark matter distribution of galaxies is important for understanding galaxy formation and evolution, and improve our knowledge of the universe.

Did You Know?

I am a volunteer at the mobile Planetarium show. We introduce the projected night sky to the public, especially school kids. It is both challenging and interesting to communicate with kids.


My supervisors, Anne-Marie Weijmans and Vivienne Wild, showed good examples of being successful woman researchers and provided me with useful suggestions. My collaborator Ling Zhu also encouraged me to build my confidence in science.