The main focus of our group is on experiments with rare isotopes that address open questions in astrophysics such as the origin of the elements or the nature of stellar explosions. The nuclei we study are the same that are formed in stellar explosions and despite of their short lifetime (milliseconds) they imprint their properties on the characteristics of the explosion and on the chemical composition of the universe.  Experiments use a range of newly developed detector systems as well as existing equipment at NSCL and elsewhere.

 

We are also doing some theoretical work in astrophysics, such as model calculations of X-ray bursts, neutron star crusts, and the r-process. The models provide the motivation for the experiments and are used to take advantage of the experimental results in terms of addressing open astrophysical questions. While most group members are experimentalists, most of them do some theoretical work to put their experiments into context. The group also has some full time theorists.

X-ray burst

We are part of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA), a larger collaborative network in experiments, nuclear theory, astrophysics and observations that spans many institutions in the US and abroad. JINA offers many exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary interactions ranging from direct collaboration with astronomers and other nuclear astrophysicists, to the possibility of research stays at other institutions and participation in JINA schools and workshops.  A major group effort is also the JINA reaclib database, a public repository for nuclear reaction rates in stellar environments and the JINA Virtual Journal for nuclear astrophysics.

Thesis projects are available in all areas of interest.

More Information: Experimental Program | Theoretical Program | JINA




Experimental Program:

Our group uses a range of experimental devices and techniques. Currently  experimental projects focus either on equipment developed, or under development, in our group:

  • Time-of-flight mass measurements with our timing and position sensitive detectors
  • Measurements of beta delayed neutron emission with our NERO detector, and detectors at other laboratories
  • A new experimental direction are experiments planned at the new and world unique ReA3 facility that provides low energy beams at astrophysical energies. We are involved in the JENSA, ANASEN, and AT-TPC equipment development projects and the beam line installation and commissioning.

And on other equipment available at NSCL:

  • We use the new generation gamma ray detector GRETINA for nuclear astrophysics experiments
  • We carry out beta decay studies using the NSCL Beta Counting System and the RF Fragment separator

Theoretical Program:

Our group has available our own JINA computing cluster. We currently run

  • models of X-ray bursts (single and multi-zone)
  • Big Bang nucleosynthesis models
  • models for steady state burning on accreting neutron stars
  • various rapid neutron capture process models
  • models for the neutrino-p process
  • a new generation of models for accreting neutron star crusts
  • post processing codes to simulate the reaction sequences in the p-process and other environments

In general the focus is on investigating the interplay between nuclear physics and astrophysical observables.