Richard A. McCray

University of California, Berkeley


Election Year: 1989
Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My research involves a broad range of phenomena in astronomy, including active galactic nuclei, binary x-ray sources, interstellar gas dynamics, mass loss from stars, and supernova explosions. Most of my work involves the construction of theoretical models for aspects of these systems, especially the formation of their atomic and molecular spectra. Sometimes I am involved in observations of such systems with instruments on spacecraft. In recent years I have spent a good fraction of my time studying Supernova 1987A. My group has modeled the complex processes whereby the radioactive luminosity from newly synthesized elements is converted into the observed spectrum as the photons propagate through the supernova debris, and we are using such models to understand what the spectrum is telling us about the dynamics, thermodynamics, and element composition of the debris of the explosion. We are also developing models to predict the display that will occur when the envelope of SN1987A strikes its circumstellar ring, some 5 to 10 years from now.

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