Roger A. Chevalier

University of Virginia


Election Year: 1996
Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My primary field is theoretical astrophysics, with an emphasis on supernovae and their interaction with their surroundings. These exploding stars are the dominant source of energy for the gas in normal galaxies like our own. Supernovae evolve on a time scale of years, so I have made predictions for phenomena that can be observed from the interaction of light and shock waves generated by the supernovae with the surrounding medium. A particularly interesting case is the well-observed nearby supernova SN 1987A, which should show a strong interaction in the next decade. On a smaller scale, I have investigated how a central neutron star formed in a supernova interacts with the supernova gas. In SN 1987A, an initial neutron star may have been converted to a black hole by the fallback of matter. This work revealed a regime of neutrino-cooled neutron star accretion that could also apply to neutron stars that are spiraling into companion stars. On a larger scale, I have studied mechanisms for shock wave emission and instabilities and gas flows in galaxies. Observations of winds from the central regions of starburst galaxies have substantiated my ideas about how the supernova power is converted to mass motion.

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