Department of Astronomy Center for Radiophysics & Space Research

Research Areas

Astronomy is a multidisciplinary natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth's atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). It is concerned with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe.

Research in the Cornell Astronomy Department includes astrophysics theory, complex numerical simulations of extreme environments, astronomical observations, from within the Solar System to the largest cosmic scales, and the engineering design, construction and implementation of instruments for ground and space based observatories and Mars Rovers. Our observational work covers the entire electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves to gamma-rays. A wide variety of national and international observatories and satellites are utilized to conduct our research.

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Extreme Physics and Astrophysics of Compact Objects

Gravitational Waves, Dense Matter, and Burst Sources in the Universe Neutron stars are the exotic end-products of stellar evolution. With masses ranging from 1.2 to 2.0 solar masses but radii as small as 10 km,  their interiors approach nuclear densities and provide laboratories for the behavior of matter at extremes of temperature and pressure that cannot be replicated on Earth.
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Planetary Exploration and Exoplanets

Planetary science is the scientific study of planets (including Earth), moons, and planetary systems, in particular those of the Solar System and the processes that form them. It studies objects ranging in size from micrometeoroids to gas giants, aiming to determine their composition, dynamics, formation, interrelations and history.
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Disks and Jets

In young forming stars, disks form from contracting gas clouds as part of the process of star formation and jets emanating from the disk-star interaction play an important role.  Planets form from and within these disks.
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Black Holes and Neutron Stars

Research on black holes and neutron stars is an active area of study in Cornell Astronomy.  A large numerical relativity group is devoted to computing the merger of binary systems containing two black holes, one black hole and one neutron star or two neutron stars.
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Galaxies Across the Universe

Cornell astronomers study the history and evolution of galaxies across the universe and throughout cosmic time, using both ground- and space-based telescopes spanning the full wavelength range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
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Cosmology and the Distant Universe

Cosmology is the study of the evolution of the Universe. At Cornell we study all aspects of cosmology, ranging from the physics of inflation in the very early Universe to the development of large scale structure at modest redshift to the underlying cause of the present phase of accelerated expansion. Our dual goals are to understand basic physical principles and to identify specific observations to test theoretical ideas.