Research in the TAPIR group includes, but is not limited to, the subjects in the following list.
Solar System and Planetary/Stellar Dynamics
Formation and evolution of planetary systems and solar system bodies. Planet formation, evolution, and observable signatures in planet-finding missions. Many-body dynamics and orbital mechanics. Solar system atmospheric, planetary, space-plasma physics in the solar wind and planetary atmospheres, and gravitational physics.
Evolution of X-ray binaries and binary pulsars; stellar collisions and interactions in globular clusters and galactic nuclei; plasma physics in stars and supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. Merging and interacting binary stars (or triple stars). Interior structure of massive stars. Radiation-magneto-hydrodynamics in relativistic and radiation-dominated regimes.
Predictions for electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational-wave sources. Oscillation modes in white dwarfs and other stars; white dwarf cooling; Newtonian and General Relativistic dynamics of pulsars; gravitational waveforms from merging compact binaries; pulsar emission mechanisms; recycling of neutron stars in globular clusters and Galactic binaries; pulsar magnetic field decay; accretion disks and relativistic jets from X-ray binaries (neutron star and black hole).
Galaxies, Super-Massive Black Holes, and Star Formation
Formation and evolution of galaxies and their associated stars and supermassive black holes. Origins of stars, "feedback" between massive stars (radiation, stellar winds, supernovae explosions) or super-massive black holes (relativistic jets, accretion-disk winds, radiation) and their galactic or inter-galactic environments. Origins of heavy elements in the Universe. Predictions for next-generation telescopes (JWST, WFIRST). Formation of the first stars, first galaxies, and origin of the first supermassive black holes (primordial or astrophysical). Evolution of the circum-galactic and inter-galactic medium, reionization of the Universe.
The origin of large scale structure in the universe, the cosmic microwave background, dark matter (supersymmetric particles, axions, ...); gravitational wave sources, background, and detection, with a close relation to the LIGO and LISA gravity wave detector development. Strong and weak gravitational lensing. The ionization and evolution of the intergalactic medium. Origin and detection of primordial magnetic fields. Primordial element abundances. Astrophysical signatures of dark matter and dark energy.
Indirect dark matter searches with gamma rays and charged particles, direct dark matter searches, gravitational lensing, and observational probes of dark matter structure and interactions. Signatures of different dark matter models in galaxy structure and dynamics, annihilation models for high-energy searches, and laboratory experiment concept design.
The astrophysics, phenomenology and modeling of gravitational-wave sources; development of data analysis methods for LIGO and LISA; participation (via the LIGO Scientific Collaboration) in searches for waves in LIGO's data; modeling of Advanced LIGO detectors and ways to improve their performance; development and analysis of concepts for third-generation LIGO detectors, which will beat the standard quantum limit; exploration of ways to test quantum theory for human-sized objects using LIGO detectors and smaller-scale interferometers.
Numerical Relativity - SXS - Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes
The SXS project is a collaborative effort involving groups at the California Institute of Technology and Cornell University. Our goal is the simulation of black holes and other extreme spacetimes to gain a better understanding of Relativity, and the physics of exotic objects in the distant cosmos. Modeling physics of radiation-matter interactions, neutrinos, magnetic fields in extreme gravity conditions. Numerical relativity simulations of colliding black holes and neutron stars.
The Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics
The Burke Institute represents Caltech’s leading role in humanity’s quest to discover fundamental laws of nature and to explain natural phenomena at all scales—from subatomic, atomic, and molecular scales to the scales of celestial objects and the universe itself. TAPIR is involved at all levels, from attacking the problems posed by dark matter, dark energy, and the early universe, to exploring plasma and gravitational physics in the most extreme environments. The institute supports a large number of prize postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduates, and senior scientists as well as a vibrant visitor program, in order to advance our understanding of the most fundamental problems in physics.
Other Astronomy Resources at Caltech
Caltech is partnered with a tremendous diversity of resources both on-campus and off, including multiple NASA centers and affiliated institutions, leading the world in astrophysics research. Much of our research is done in conjunction with members of Caltech's Astronomy Department, and, within the Physics Department, the Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Space Radiation Laboratory, the LIGO lab, as well as the NASA JPL space-sciences group, IPAC infrared astrophysics center, and NASA exoplanet science institute, the Caltech Division of Planetary Sciences, and the Carnegie Observatories of Pasadena.