Stars and Compact Objects

The Stars and Compact Objects group develops the theoretical framework and computational methods needed to study the life and death of stars, as well as the astrophysics of neutron stars and black holes.

The group currently meets weekly. For more information on attending these meetings, please contact Matteo Cantiello



Stars are fundamental astrophysical building blocks, their life and death driving the evolution of gas chemistry and dynamics in galaxies across cosmological times. The goal of the Stars and Compact Objects group is to understand the physics of stars, of their explosive deaths, and of the compact remnants they leave behind. To achieve this goal the group develops theoretical and computational models of stars, as well as plasma in extreme conditions, that can be tested by new observations.

Compact Objects

The deaths of ordinary stars herald the births of compact objects: white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. Magnetized neutron stars – pulsars and magnetars – emit luminous radiation powered by their rotational and magnetic energies. Accretion onto compact objects powers high-energy astrophysical sources, from X-ray binaries to gamma-ray bursts. White dwarfs and neutron stars generate luminous novae and X-ray bursts from the sudden ignition of nuclear fuel on their surfaces. Compact objects also generate gravitational waves when they are born in supernova explosions or merge with other compact objects. We are also interested in understanding the physical processes – shocks, magnetic reconnection, and turbulence – by which ordered large-scale energy is channeled and partitioned into relativistic particle energy. Our tools include large-scale magnetohydrodynamic and first-principles plasma simulations which make use of the particle-in-cell method.

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