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Theoretical Astrophysics

Research in the Theoretical Astrophysics division utilizes both physical analysis and mathematical modeling to understand astronomical systems. A broad range of topics is investigated, including the formation, structure, and evolution of stars, the properties of atoms and molecules in interstellar space, the structure and properties of accretion systems, high-temperature plasmas, the formation and evolution of planetary systems, both solar and extrasolar, the formation of galaxies, clusters, and quasars in the universe, and theories of the early universe.


CHANDLER, John F., Physicist. S.B. (1973), Ph.D. (1979) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Research specialties: Experimental tests of general relativity; planetary ephemerides; interplanetary radar ranging; astrometric optical interferometry.

DI STEFANO, Rosanne, Astrophysicist. B.A. (1973) Queens College of the City University of New York; M.A. (1976) Columbia University; Ph.D. (1982) State University of New York, Stony Brook. Research specialties: Gravitational lensing, particularly its application to the study of stellar remnants and planetary systems in the vicinity of the Sun; Interacting binaries, especially the progenitors of Type Ia supernovae; Wide-field monitoring surveys, including Kepler, the microlensing surveys, Pan-STARRS and LSST.

HOLMAN, Matthew J., Astrophysicist; Associate Director, Theoretical Astrophysics Division, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. S.B. (1989), Ph.D. (1994) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Research specialties: Nonlinear dynamics; solar system dynamics; extrasolar planetary systems; ground-based and space-based optical astronomy.

SHAPIRO, Irwin I., Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Institution; Timken University Professor, Harvard University. A.B. (1950) Cornell University; A.M. (1951), Ph.D. (1955) Harvard University. Research specialties: Radio and radar techniques: applications to astrometry, astrophysics, geophysics, planetary physics, and tests of theories of gravitation; precollege and college science education: curriculum development and teacher training.


FINKBEINER, Douglas Paul, Assistant Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University. B.S. (1994) University of Michigan; Ph.D. (1999) University of California, Berkeley. Research specialties: Interstellar dust; observational cosmology; particle astrophysics.

HERNQUIST, Lars Eric, Mallinckrodt Professor of Astrophysics, Harvard University. B.A. (1977) Cornell University; Ph.D. (1985) California Institute of Technology; M.A., Hon. (1998) Harvard University. Research specialties: Cosmology; physics of compact stars; numerical astrophysics.

LOEB, Abraham, Professor of Astronomy, Director of the Institute for Theory & Computation, Harvard University. B.Sc. (1983), M.Sc. (1985), Ph.D. (1986) Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Research specialties: Theoretical cosmology and astrophysics.

NARAYAN, Ramesh, Senior Astronomer; Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University. B.S. (1971) University of Madras; M.S. (1973), Ph.D. (1979) Bangalore University. Research specialties: Gravitational lensing; accretion disks; black holes; neutron stars; gamma-ray bursts.

PAYNE, Matthew J., Astrophysicist; Research Scientist, Theoretical Astrophysics Division, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  MPhys. (2001), University of Oxford; CASM (2004), University of Cambridge; Ph.D. (2009) IoA, University of Cambridge. Research specialties: Extrasolar planetary systems; Planetary Dynamics; Radial Velocity and Transit Searches; Occultation Searches of the Outer Solar System

RYBICKI, George B., Senior Physicist; Professor of the Practice of Astronomy, Harvard University. B.S. (1956) Carnegie-Mellon University; M.A. (1957), Ph.D. (1965) Harvard University. Research specialties: Radiative processes and radiative transfer; cosmology; radiation hydrodynamics; stellar and galactic dynamics.

STUBBS, Christopher William, Professor, Harvard University. B.Sc. (1981) University of Virginia; Ph.D. (1988) University of Washington. Research specialties: Fundamental physics, dark matter, dark energy, experimental gravitation, observational cosmology.