Research

High-Energy Astrophysics

Description

The High Energy Astrophysics group at Yale is studying a wide variety of astronomical sources (such as quasars, black holes, and gamma ray bursts) which emit x-rays and gamma-rays. These objects produce high energy photons by several processes generated under extreme conditions not obtainable on Earth, and are therefore of interest both as astronomical objects, and as "laboratories" for the study of very extreme physical conditions. Due to the availability of orbiting observatories which can detect high energy radiation before it is attenuated by the Earth's atmosphere, High Energy Astrophysics is currently a vital and rapidly advancing field. Observational projects in both the X-ray and gamma-ray regimes are ongoing, as are theoretical investigations.

Most classes of astronomical objects, from ordinary Sun-like stars to the most distant quasars, have now been detected as X-ray sources. Recent observational projects conducted by Yale scientists have included the discovery of over half of the confirmed black holes in binary star systems. Yale's optical telescopes in Chile and Arizona have made Yale a key participant in international collaborations to perform multi-wavelength observations of X-ray emitting objects, such as those described in Raj Jain's thesis (Ph.D. 2001). We have put particular emphasis on optical studies of black holes, and other campaigns to study quasars and cataclysmic variables are currently in progress. Projects related to the development of the next generation of X-ray detectors are underway in the Department of Applied Physics.

Theoretical work in High Energy Astrophysics at Yale focuses on understanding the physical mechanisms responsible for the intense X-ray and gamma-ray emission seen from compact objects including active galactic nuclei (such as quasars), X-ray emitting binary stars, and gamma-ray bursters. Current projects include detailed numerical studies of the electron-positron pair plasmas created under conditions of high radiation density, and other problems in relativistic radiative hydrodynamics. This work is being used to guide detailed analysis of data from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer on several black hole candidates. The results from this timing analysis, which form part of Tom Maccarone's thesis (Ph.D. expected 2001) in turn put critical constraints on the physical processes responsible for the emission.

Image Credits: (header) NASA, ESA, J. Hester and A. Loll (Arizona State University)

Yale University

© 2014 Yale University. All Rights Reserved.

Members

Group Members

Charles Bailyn

Thomas E. Donnelley Professor, Astronomy & Physics, DUS Astronomy

Web Site | Please visit my homepage

E-mail |

Phone | (203) 432-3022

Fax | (203) 432-5048

Paolo Coppi

Professor, Astronomy & Physics

Web Site | Please visit my homepage

E-mail |

Phone | (203) 432-3014

Peter Parker

Professor, Physics & Astronomy, DUS Physics

Web Site | Please visit my homepage

E-mail |

Phone | (203) 432-3099

Andrew Szymkowiak

Sr. Research Scientist, Physics

E-mail |

Phone | (203) 432-9854

Meg Urry

Israel Munson Prof Physics & Astronomy, Dir Yale Center Astronomy & Astrophysics; Chn Physics

Web Site | Please visit my homepage

E-mail |

Phone | (203) 432-5997

Fax | (203) 432-3824

Michelle Buxton

Associate Research Scientist

Web Site | Please visit my homepage

E-mail |

Phone | (203) 432-3032

Fax | (203) 432-5048

Pedro R. Capelo

Graduate Student

Web Site | Please visit my homepage

E-mail |

Phone | (203) 432-3027

Fax | (203) 432-5048

Yale University

© 2014 Yale University. All Rights Reserved.