Bruce T. Draine

Princeton University

Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Secondary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member (elected 2007)

Research Interests

I am interested in all of the processes that occur in interstellar space, including studies of the structure of interstellar shock waves, but much of my attention has been focussed on trying to understand the properties of interstellar dust -- solid particles with sizes ranging from just a few Angstroms to about a micron. What are the shapes, sizes, and compositions of the articles? How do the particles absorb, scatter, and emit photons? How do the dust particles behave under the influence of interstellar radiation and magnetic fields, and collisions with gas atoms, ions, and electrons? What are the effects of the dust on the dynamics of the interstellar medium? These particles of interstellar dust turn out to play an important role in a very wide range of interstellar processes -- absorption, scattering and emission of photons; the formation of molecules; heating of the surrounding gas; and acceleration of the gas when the grains are driven through the gas by radiation pressure. We can't claim to comprehend the formation of galaxies until we understand the workings of interstellar dust. Progress in this field is critically dependent on observational data, but physical models are required to interpret these observations.

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