The primary theme of my research is the fundamental physics of turbulent flows, and its application to a variety of astrophysical phenomena. The incorporation of turbulent processes into theoretical and computational models has enabled remarkable progress on a wide range of topics in fundamental science. This has particularly been true in astrophysics, where turbulence is now understood to play an essential role in processes ranging from the formation of stars to supernovae explosions. Current research at the forefront of astrophysical theory emphasizes the significance of this powerful concept, and applies it within an astrophysical context to galaxies and clusters of galaxies, the interstellar medium, accretion disks, and supernovae.
As the result of this tremendous progress, we are at an exciting point in time where we can now begin to answer a number of fundamental, long-standing astrophysical questions by directly comparing simulation against observation.
My own work has focused on two endpoints of stellar evolution — star formation and supernovae, as well as on the fundamental physics of turbulent fluids. In the context of supernovae, these questions include : Under what conditions do the merger of two white dwarfs lead to a supernova? What are its observable properties? How does the subsonic deflagration develop into a detonation within the turbulent electron-degenerate material within a nascent thermonuclear supernova? In the context of star formation, outstanding questions include : How is turbulence within star-forming giant molecular clouds (GMCs) generated and sustained? What sets the stellar initial mass function (IMF)? What sets the rate at which stars are formed? How are brown dwarfs formed? How are binary stars formed?
My students, collaborators and I have made substantial contributions towards addressing these key questions. Some of our signature accomplishments include:
- The first-ever simulation of detonation initiation in electron-degenerate material under realistic turbulent conditions. (2019)
- The first-ever simulation revealing a one-armed spiral disk instability in compact object binary mergers. (2015)
- One of the first-ever simulations of the development of the magnetorotational instability in compact object binary mergers, and the first of a merging white dwarf binary system. (2013)
- The first-ever simulation of a Type Iax supernova as the failed detonation of a near-Chandrasekhar mass white dwarf. (2012)
- The first-ever prediction for the gravitational wave signature of a Type Ia supernova. (2011)
- The largest simulation of compressible, homogeneous, isotropic turbulence, including Lagrangian tracers. (2008)
- The first-ever 3D simulation of a self-consistent detonation of a near-Chandrasekhar mass white dwarf. (2008)
- The first quantitative theory of the stellar binary period distribution. (2005)