Research in High Energy Astrophyics

CollapsarResearch in high energy and particle astrophysics is divided at UCSC between the Physics Department (especially the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics) and the Astonomy Department. The two departments are located in the same building and collaborations are common.

Understanding the physics and evolution of thermal X-ray emission from hot gas in galaxies and galaxy clusters is another productive research area at UCSC. Theoretical work on the dynamics and evolution of this gas is closely linked with X-ray and infrared observational studies.

Stan Woosley has an active research program in nucleosynthesis and computational supernova and gamma-ray burst astrophysics. He is the developer of the collapsar model of gamma-ray bursts (GRB), which has become the canonical picture. He is also a co-investigator on the HETE-2 GRB satellite mission. Steve Thorsett works on observational gamma-ray burst astrophysics, primarily through participation in the HST GRB collaboration. Thorsett also observes neutron stars, especially radio pulsars, using all of the major US radio facilities.

GlastThe Physics Department is building the primary instrument for the next large gamma-ray observatory, GLAST, which Thorsett participates in as an "interdisciplinary scientist." Members of that department are also involved in the Milagro experiment, as well as future very-high-energy gamma-ray and cosmic-ray experiments. Physicist David Smith is a co-investigator on the RHESSI solar X-ray satellite.

Planning for future missions moves forward in several directions. Woosley, D. Smith, and Thorsett are all participating in the engineering study for the NuSTAR Small Explorer, which received a high priority by NASA for launching by 2008 or somewhat later. Thorsett is chair of the co-investigator science team for this project, which would be the first sensitive, imaging hard X-ray telescope in orbit. Both Woosley and Thorsett are also on planning teams for the EXIST black-hole finder mission.

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