(recorded in 2002)
Richard McCray's research is in the theory of the dynamics of the interstellar gas, theory of cosmic X-ray sources and, most recently, the theory of Supernova 1987A. His contributions include the theory of the "interstellar bubbles" that are blown in interstellar gas by the winds of hot stars, the theory of "superbubbles" (giant holes blown in the gas disks of galaxies by clusters of exploding stars), theoretical models showing how X-rays from neutron stars and black holes are converted to observed ultraviolet and optical emission spectra, and the interpretation of the evolution of the spectrum of Supernova 1987A. McCray is also engaged in observations of these phenomena with various spacecraft, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra Observatory. Richard McCray received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from UCLA in 1967. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech (1967-68) and an Assistant Professor at the Harvard College Observatory (1968-71). In 1971, he moved to the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he is now Professor of Astrophysics, Emeritus.
Listen to the Interview (requires free RealPlayer software):
Richard McCray discusses the beginnings of his career his interest in science and the research he conducted early in his career. (9 minutes)
McCray talks about his research after graduate school, including his famous work on interstellar bubbles. (7 minutes)
McCray continues the discussion about his work on bubbles, and also his collaboration with Russian astrophysicists during the Cold War. (9 minutes)
McCray talks about his work on superbubbles and starts discussing his famous work on supernova 1987A [SN1987A]. (7 minutes)
McCray continues his discussion about SN1987A, its significance and his foray into observational astronomy to obtain observations of this object. (7 minutes)
McCray describes his work on the remnants of SN1987A, and how his predictions about this object have been coming true during his lifetime. (10 minutes)
McCray talks about his students and his interest in developing a new paradigm for classroom teaching. He also discusses his ongoing work and ideas for future work. (9 minutes)
Last Updated: 07-16-2004
The audio files linked above are part of the National Academy of Sciences InterViews series. Opinions and statements included in these audio files are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academy of Sciences.