Research Homepage of Christian D. Ott
I am a computational/theoretical astrophysicist in TAPIR, which is part of the
Walter Burke Institute for
Theoretical Physics at Caltech, working at the interface of
numerical relativity, nuclear/neutrino astrophysics, and
gravitational-wave physics. My current primary research interests are
(1) explosions of massive stars in core-collapse supernovae and long
gamma-ray bursts and their multi-messenger signatures in neutrinos,
gravitational waves, and photons, (2) the formation of stellar mass
and supermassive black holes, and (3) binary black hole and neutron
I lead the Caltech portion (~20 researchers, including
research faculty, postdocs, grad students, and undergrads) of
the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes
(SXS) collaboration and also work closely with
the Einstein Toolkit team.
Another line of my research is
concerned with the observation and interpretation of gravitational
waves using the LIGO
interferometers and I am a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.
I am presently leading an NSF CAREER project in Gravitational
Physics. I was a 2012-2014 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow.
Trainees/Mentees that won national postdoctoral fellowships:
Evan O'Connor (Hubble
2014, Caltech PhD 2012), Christine Corbett Moran (NSF 2015),
Philipp Mösta (Einstein 2015), Christian
Reisswig (Einstein 2012), Luke Roberts (Einstein 2013).
Postdocs shipped off to faculty positions:
Luke Roberts (Michigan State University, deferred to 2016),
Sebastiano Bernuzzi (University of Parma, 2015),
Sean Couch (Michigan State University, 2015),
Ernazar Abdikamalov (Nazarbayev University, Kasachstan, 2014)
Some background on me:
I entered theoretical astrophysics
in 2001 when I was an exchange student at The University of Arizona
and met Adam Burrows who trained me in core-collapse supernova theory
and in many of the other things it takes to be a scientist. I received
a Diploma in Physics from Heidelberg University in 2003 and obtained a
Dr. rer. nat. (PhD equivalent) in 2007 at the Max Planck Institute for
Gravitational Physics under Bernard Schutz's and Ed Seidel's
supervision. I was a Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics
postdoctoral fellow with Adam Burrows at The University of Arizona
before joining Caltech. More details can be found in
Follow me on Twitter:
Read my blog: Blowing Up Stars
|Senior Thesis:||If you are a Caltech undergrad and interested in doing a senior thesis in Ay or Ph, please come see me! I am happy to advise senior thesis work and have a number of interesting projects available.
|Prospective Summer Undergrads:||We work with the LIGO REU program. Please see the projects and application procedures listed there. Caltech undergrads should contact me directly about SURF possibilities.||
|Prospective Grad Students:||
If you are interested in our research and would like to join us, please apply to the Caltech
and/or the Caltech Physics
graduate programs. Please do not send me your application
materials -- these should go to the graduate program. The admission
decision will be made by the graduate admission committees.|
We are presently looking for graduate students interested in working
with us on a variety of topics in massive star evolution, core-collapse
supernovae, gravitational wave astrophysics, binary black hole collisions,
and neutron star mergers.
New Stuff (in quasi-chronological order)
- 2015/07/12 School is out! CGWAS 2015 is over!
60 students from 11 countries had a great time thanks to 16 lecturers and 17 dedicated local colleagues at Caltech who helped make CGWAS 2015 happen.
Lecture slides/notes, exercises, and solutions are available on the
- 2015/06/21 Caltech Gravitational Wave Astrophysics School 2015
- 2015/05/21 Graduate student Jonathan Blackman is
named the Caltech PMA Garmire Scholar 2015!
- 2015/04/10 Hannah Klion wins Department of Energy
Computational Science Graduate Fellowship
Congrats to Hannah! Hannah is a senior in the physics program at
Caltech and has been working with us since her Freshman year. Her
research is on rotating core collapse and gravitational wave emission
from its postbounce ring-down phase. Hannah will take her CSGF to one
of the schools she is currently considering for graduate school and we
hope to continue to collaborate with her in the future!
- 2015/03/28 Two podcasts feature me on stellar collapse and supernova explosions
The Star Spot -- Episode 73: Things that explode, with Christian Ott
Physics Central -- Physics Buzz Blog Podcast: Supernova Neutrinos
- 2015/01/24 Public Lecture at Toronto's Astronomy & Space Exploration Society Symposium.
I had the pleasure of joining the Astronomy & Space Exploration Society for their 12th Annual Symposium at the University of Toronto on January 23, 2015. ASX is an undergraduate-run organization that organizes regular seminars on topics related to astronomy and space and they put together their yearly symposium that is always under a special theme. This year's symposium had the theme "Stellar Graveyard" -- of course that's a topic I have something to say about. I gave a lecture on The Theory of Stellar Death and Explosion. The symposium was a lot of fun! A broad and diverse audience of about 450 people attended and most stayed until the end of my talk (at 10:15 pm!).
- 2014/03/05 Magnetorotational Core-Collapse Supernovae in 3D: Mösta et al. 2014, arXiv:1403.1230
What drives hypernovae, extreme supernova explosions that have
many times the explosion energy of a garden-variety supernova from a
Detailed simulations show that the standard mechanism for
core-collapse supernovae -- the neutrino mechanism -- seems to lack
the efficiency to drive such powerful explosions.
A possibly more powerful alternative could be
the magnetorotational mechanism. In this scenario, rapid
rotation (a proto-neutron star with a millisecond spin period) in
combination with a very strong toroidal magnetic field
(1015-1016 G) are expected to push out
energetic bipolar outflows along the axis of rotation.
Our team has just completed the first set of full 3D,
dynamical-spacetime GR-magnetohydrodynamic simulations of
magnetorotational core-collapse supernovae. This work was led by postdoc
Richers (DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellow) made important
In collaboration with other team members, Philipp and
Sherwood showed that the configuration that leads to strong jets in
axisymmetry is unstable in 3D to an MHD kink instability,
leading to a spiral deformation of the outflow. The volume rendering
the left shows the entropy distribution at some 160 milliseconds after
core bounce. Red indicates high entropy (about >10
kB/baryon), blue low entropy (a few
kB/baryon). The vertical axis is the vertical and the scale
is 1600 km. Instead of a clean jet, two huge lobes develop that move
out secularly as the proto-neutron star pushes spiral streams of out
hot, highly magnetized plasma into polar regions.
Interested in learning more? Check out
our paper and the movies that
go along with it stellarcollapse.org/3dgrmhd.
The simulations used of the open-source Einstein Toolkit and additional source code and input parameters needed to reproduce our simulations can be found at stellarcollapse.org/3dgrmhd.
- 2013/07/27 Caltech Gravitational Wave Astrophysics School 2013
A week of exciting lectures, two parties and a field trip to Mt. Wilson Observatory (see group picture in front of the 100-inch Hooker telescope!) is over. We'll do it again in two years!
- 2013/07/01 Congratulations Dr. Jeff Kaplan!
PhD offspring #2! Jeff will join the US STEM workforce in finance.
Some Current Projects and Collaborations
My team at Caltech, which is part of the Simualting eXtreme Spacetimes
collaboration, is working on full 3D simulations of core-collapse
supernovae with the ultimate goal of connecting precollapse conditions
to the various possible outcomes of stellar collapse and their multi-messenger
(photons, neutrinos, gravitational waves) signatures.
I am a member of the Einstein Toolkit
that aims to provide well tested and documented open-source
simulation codes to the numerical relativity and astrophysics modeling
community. The Einstein Toolkit is currently funded by a collaborative
NSF grant to LSU, RIT, Georgia Tech, and Caltech.
I very strongly believe in open source and strive to make my
simulation codes and input physics publically available. Most of my 3D
supernova simulation tools are already public and part of the
. My former graduate student Evan O'Connor's code GR1D (see the GR1D code paper) is also available as open
source from our stellarcollapse.org
website. There we also host finite-temperature nuclear equation of state tables
and table reader/interpolation code.
- I am an active member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration Burst
Data Analysis working group and am presently involved in a search for
gravitational waves from core-collapse supernovae. I am also trying to
understand how combined neutrino and gravitational wave observations
from the next galactic core-collapse supernova may be used to
constrain supernova physics and fundamental physics.
With the Caltech-Cornell-CITA-WSU Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS)
collaboration I am studying the merger of neutron star - neutron
star and black hole - neutron star binaries. This research is primarily
funded by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.
I work with the Princeton supernova group (led by
Adam Burrows) on various topics in
core-collapse supernova theory. The current focus is 1D and multi-D neutrino
transport using Monte Carlo techniques.
(Complete ADS list)
(ADS short-author list only [no LIGO papers])
Recent Short Author List Work (since 2012):
V. Morozova, A. L. Piro, M. Renzo, C. D. Ott, D. Clausen, S. M. Couch, J. Ellis, L. F. Roberts, "Light Curves of Core-Collapse Supernovae with Substantial Mass Loss using the New Open-Source SuperNova Explosion Code (SNEC)," submitted to ApJ (2015), (arXiv/ads).
J. Fuller and C. D. Ott, "Dark Matter-induced Collapse of Neutron Stars: A Possible Link Between Fast Radio Bursts and the Missing Pulsar Problem," MNRAS 450, L71 (2015), (ads).
J. Fuller, H. Klion, E. Abdkikamalov and C. D. Ott, "Supernova seismology: gravitational wave signatures of rapidly rotating core collapse," MNRAS 450, 414 (2015), (ads).
D. Radice, S. M. Couch, and C. D. Ott, "Implicit large eddy simulations of anisotropic weakly compressible turbulence with application to core-collapse supernovae," submitted to Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology (2015), (ads/arXiv).
F. Foucart, E. O'Connor, L. Roberts, M. Duez, R. Haas, L. Kidder, C. D. Ott, H. Pfeiffer, M. Scheel, B. Szilagyi, "Post-merger evolution of a neutron star-black hole binary with neutrino transport,", accepted for publication in PRD (2015), (ads/arXiv).
D. Clausen, A. L. Piro, and C. D. Ott, "The Black Hole Formation Probability," ApJ 799, 190 (2015), (ads).
E. Abdikamalov, C. D. Ott, D. Radice, L. F. Roberts, R. Haas, C. Reisswig, P. Moesta, H. Klion, and E. Schnetter, "Neutrino-driven Turbulent Convection and Standing Accretion Shock Instability in Three-Dimensional Core-Collapse Supernovae," accepted for publication in ApJ (2014), (ads/arXiv).
S. M. Couch and C. D. Ott, "The Role of Turbulence in Neutrino-Driven Core-Collapse Supernova Explosions," ApJ 799, 12 (2015), (ads).
E. Abdikamalov, S. Gossan, A. DeMaio, C. D. Ott, "Measuring the Angular Momentum Distribution in Core-Collapse Supernova Progenitors with Gravitational Waves," PRD 90, 044001 (2014), (ads).
F. Foucart, B. Deaton, M. Duez, E. O'Connor, C. D. Ott, R. Haas, L. Kidder, H. Pfeiffer, M. Scheel, B. Szilagyi, "Neutron star-black hole mergers with a nuclear equation of state and neutrino cooling: Dependence in the binary parameters,", Phys. Rev. D. 90, 024026 (2014), (ads).
J. D. Kaplan, C. D. Ott, E. P. O'Connor, K. Kiuchi, L. Roberts, M. Duez, "The Influence of Thermal Pressure on Equilibrium Models of Hypermassive Neutron Star Merger Remnants," ApJ 790, 19 (2014), (ads).
W. Engels, R. Frey, and C. D. Ott, "Multivariate Regression Analysis of Gravitational Waves from Rotating Core Collapse," PRD 90, 124026 (2014), (ads).
C. Muhlberger, F. H. Nouri, M. Duez, F. Foucart, L. Kidder, C. D. Ott, M. Scheel, B. Szilagyi, and S. Teukolsky, "Magnetic effects on the low-T/|W| instability in differentially rotating neutron stars," PRD 90, 104014 (2014), (ads).
P. Mösta, S. Richers, C. D. Ott, R. Haas, A. L. Piro, K. Boydstun, E. Abdikamalov, C. Reisswig, E. Schnetter, "Magnetorotational Core-Collapse Supernovae in Three Dimensions," ApJ, 785, L29 (2014), (ads).
P. Mösta, B. Mundim, J. Faber, R. Haas, S. Noble, T. Bode, F. Löffler, C. D. Ott, C. Reisswig, E. Schnetter, "GRHydro: A new open source general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamics code for the Einstein Toolkit," CQG 31, 015005 (2014), (ads).
S. M. Couch and C. D. Ott, "Revival of the Stalled Core-collapse Supernova Shock Triggered by Precollapse Asphericity in the Progenitor Star," ApJ 778, L7 (2013),(ads).
C. Reisswig, C. D. Ott, E. Abdikamalov, R. Haas, P. Moesta, E. Schnetter, "Formation and Coalescence of Cosmological Supermassive Black Hole Binaries in Supermassive Star Collapse," PRL 111, 151101 (2013), (ads).
M. B. Deaton, M. Duez, F. Foucart, E. O'Connor, C. D. Ott, L. Kidder, C. Muhlberger, M. Scheel, B. Szilagyi, "Black Hole-Neutron Star Mergers with a Hot Nuclear Equation of State: Outflow and Neutrino-Cooled Disk for a Low-Mass, High-Spin Case," ApJ 776, 47 (2013), (ads).
F. Foucart, M. B. Deaton, M. Duez, L. Kidder, I. MacDonald, C. D. Ott, H. Pfeiffer, M. Scheel, B. Szilagyi, S. Teukolsky, "Black-hole-neutron-star mergers at realistic mass ratios: Equation of state and spin orientation effects," Phys. Rev. D. 87, 084006 (2013), (ads).
C. Reisswig, R. Haas, C. D. Ott, E. Abdikamalov, P. Moesta, D. Pollney, and E. Schnetter,
"Three-Dimensional General-Relativistic Hydrodynamic Simulations of Binary Neutron Star Coalescence and Stellar Collapse with Multipatch Grids," Phys. Rev. D. 87, 064023 (2013), (ads)
C. D. Ott, E. Abdkimalov, P. Moesta, R. Haas, S. Drasco, E. O'Connor, C. Reisswig, C. Meakin, and E. Schnetter, "General-Relativistic Simulations of Three-Dimensional Core-Collapse Supernovae," ApJ 768, 115 (2013), (ads).
O. Korobkin, E. Abdikamalov, N. Stergioulas, E. Schnetter, B. Zink, S. Rosswog, and C. D. Ott, "The runaway instability in general-relativistic accretion disks," MNRAS, 431, 349 (2013), (ads).
D. Radice, E. Abdikamalov, L. Rezzolla, and C. D. Ott, "A New Spherical Harmonics Scheme for Multi-Dimensional Radiation Transport I: Static Matter Configurations," J. Comp. Phys. 242, 648 (2013), (ads).
E. O'Connor and C. D. Ott, "The Progenitor Dependence of the Preexplosion Neutrino Emission in Core-Collapse Supernovae," ApJ 762, 126 (2013), (ads).
C. Horowitz, G. Shen, E. O'Connor, and C. D. Ott, "Charged current neutrino interactions in core-collapse supernovae in a virial expansion," Phys. Rev. C. 86, 065806 (2012), (ads).
C. D. Ott, E. Abdikamalov, E. O'Connor, C. Reisswig, R. Haas, P. Kalmus, S. Drasco, A. Burrows, and E. Schnetter, "Correlated Gravitational Wave and Neutrino Signals from General-Relativistic Rapidly Rotating Iron Core Collapse," Phys. Rev. D. 86, 024026 (2012), (ads).
E. Abdikamalov, A. Burrows, C. D. Ott, F. Loeffler, E. O'Connor, J. Dolence, E. Schnetter, "A New Monte Carlo Method for Time-Dependent Neutrino Radiation Transport," ApJ 755, 111 (2012), (ads).
L. Dessart, E. O'Connor, C. D. Ott, "The Arduous Journey to Black-Hole Formation in Potential Gamma-Ray Burst Progenitors,", ApJ 754, 76 (2012), (ads)
J. Logue, C. D. Ott, I. S. Heng, P. Kalmus, J. Scargill, "Inferring Core-Collapse Supernova Physics with Gravitational Waves," Phys. Rev. D. 86, 044023 (2012), (ads).
- B. Dasgupta, E. O'Connor, C. D. Ott, "Role of collective neutrino flavor oscillations in core-collapse supernova shock revival,"
Phys. Rev. D. 84, 065008 (2012), (ads).