Our Goal:

The goal is to strengthen our theoretical astrophysics group so that Carnegie will continue to lead the world in astronomy and astrophysics. Carnegie has created a unique environment in which theorists can make predictions that shape the strategies of observational programs, and to interpret new observations to reveal the underlying physics at work.

 

Our Approach:

Modern astronomy increasingly relies on theorists to interpret detailed information from the observational data. Carnegie has proven to be ideally positioned, bringing theorists and observers together at the cutting edge to better understand our universe. This side-by-side teamwork was shown recently by the Carnegie team that, with colleagues, was the first to discover optical light produced by a neutron star merger.

 After the initial detection, Carnegie's observational astronomers quickly took additional data analyzing the electromagnetic signature, telling them the speed, chemistry, and temperature of the merger material. Despite intense competition, no other group was able to acquire such data.  The data was puzzling and led a team of two Carnegie theorists to show that the early emission was produced by a shock ripping through the merger debris as the neutron stars collided.

Building theoretical astrophysics at Carnegie will create an environment that can lead to groundbreaking discoveries on some of the most pressing questions of the day including  how the unexpected mixture of dark energy, dark matter, and normal matter gave rise to the universe; how our home galaxy has grown and evolved under these conditions; and how the fantastic explosions within these galaxies provide the fundamental building blocks to produce life.

Theoretical Astrophysics