University of Pittsburgh
309 Allen Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Grad StudentsSchell, Matthew
My research focuses on several aspects of stellar evolution, mostly related to Type Ia Supernovae (SN Ia). Identifying the elusive progenitor systems of these explosions has become one of the central problems of modern astrophysics, with important implications for cosmology. I am currently working on two main projects along these lines:
Binary systems that contain one or two white dwarf stars are the leading candidates for Type Ia SN progenitors. I am leading an effort to develop data mining techniques and apply them to large astronomical surveys like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to investigate the properties of these white dwarf binaries. This work makes heavy use of ground-based telescopes like the 4m at Kitt Peak National Observatory for follow-up.
Supernova Remnants (SNRs) form when the debris expelled by supernovae interacts with the ambient medium surrounding the progenitor system. The supersonic shock waves that ensue heat the material to temperatures of several million degrees, making SNRs bright X-ray sources. I am interested in many different aspects of SNR studies, from detailed hydrodynamic models of individual objects observed by X-ray satellites like Chandra and XMM-Newton to statistical studies of SNR populations in nearby galaxies as a mean to measure SN rates and investigate the nature of their progenitors.
You can find a list of my publications here.