Faculty Research Areas - Nuclear Astrophysics

The Origin of the Elements

Research on the origin of the elements in nature focuses on astrophysical processes with rare isotopes and mass measurements, with experiments largely dealing with decay spectroscopy. Experiments with neutron deficient isotopes in the p-process (Artemis Spyrou) make use of the ReA3 facility and the SuN detector. Experiments with neutron rich isotopes in the r-process (Sean Liddick, Hendrik Schatz) use the BCS, SeGA, and NERO detector systems. Other experiments seek to answer questions of nucelosynthesis in the Big Bang (Chris Wrede). Experiments are complemented by astrophysical simulations of nucleosynthesis (Hendrik Schatz, Artemis Spyrou).

Novae and X-ray bursts

NSCL research on Novae and X-ray bursts focuses on measuring the nuclear reactions that power these events in the laboratory (Hendrik Schatz, Chris Wrede) using fast, stopped, and reaccelerated beams. Nuclear theory is developed to predict reaction rates (Alex Brown) and to extract the relevant information from reaction measurements (Filomena Nunes). X-ray burst models (Ed Brown, Hendrik Schatz) are used to link results to observations and to guide future experiments.


Supernova research focuses on experiments with charge exchange reactions aiming to constrain the weak interactions of nuclei with electrons and neutrinos (Remco Zegers) using the S800 spectrograph with LENDA and SeGA detector systems. The data guide work in nuclear theory to better predict these interactions (Alex Brown). Core collapse and thermonuclear supernova model calculations identify critical nuclear physics, determine its impact on astronomical observations (Ed Brown), and seek to identify the explosion mechanism (Wolfgang Bauer, Ed Brown).

Nuclear Processes in Stars

Many of the reactions that power stars have large uncertainties at low energies. Research at the NSCL includes calculations of helium fusion at low temperatures (Filomena Nunes), and studies of how reaction rate uncertainties affect the nucleosynthetic yields..

Neutron Stars

Neutron star studies at the NSCL focus on measurements of the pressure of nuclear matter in heavy-ion collisions (Betty Tsang, Bill Lynch), on advancing the theory of nuclear matter (Pawel Danielewicz), and on observational measurements of neutron star masses and radii (Ed Brown). Model calculations of neutron star crusts (Hendrik Schatz, Alex Brown) make use of experimental and theoretical nuclear data on very neutron rich nuclei obtained at NSCL and elsewhere.