Research : Peter Mészáros

My recent work has centered on gamma-ray bursts (GRB), which are the most powerful explosions known in the Universe. I have been involved in the formulation and development of the fireball shock model of GRB. In particular, with Martin Rees we showed that external shocks (1992) and internal shocks (1994) can account for the properties of the GRB emission; to this day, these are the leading models for interpreting the observed spectra and light curves. A highlight was our prediction of long-lasting burst afterglows (1997) at X-ray and optical wavelengths from the external blast wave, subsequently confirmed by observations with the Beppo-SAX satellite. Among current interests are the GRB relation to its stellar progenitor and host environment, the jet structure and collimation, the role of ultra-high (> TeV) energy neutrinos , the implications of GeV-TeV photons in GRB and active galaxies, the production of gravitational waves in GRB, related neutron star problems, and GRB as tools for cosmology. The following link gives a snapshot view of the high energy, GRB and GW theory group and activities at Penn State.

I am the theory lead of the Swift consortium, a multi-institution NASA satellite to study GRB afterglows in the gamma-, X-ray and optical ranges, launched in 2004. I am director of the Center for Particle and Gravitational Astrophysics, and a member of the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos. I was a long-time member of the ICECUBE international collaboration, an under-ice Cherenkov detector located in Antartica for the measurement of ultra-high energy neutrinos, and I am an affiliated scientist of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, as well as one of the founding members of the AMON (Astrophysical Multi-Merssenger Observatory) consortium. A brief overview of the main research areas and some details on specific projects are under the previous links for gamma-ray bursts, neutrinos , gravitational waves, neutron stars, and cosmology.

Other research topics have included the first studies of dissipative spherical accretion on black holes; the first investigation of galaxy formation mediated by primeval black holes or cold dark matter, and the freezing of cold dark matter in the cosmological radiation, called the Meszaros effect in some cosmology texts; the physics of strongly magnetized plasmas, including the QED vacuum polarization effects; models of accreting X-ray pulsars and cyclotron lines, summarized in a book on high-energy radiation from neutron stars; topics in the hydrodynamics and ionization of the interstellar medium; and the cosmological diffuse X-ray background radiation.

More detailed references are in a list of publications and a list of recent talks.

Research sponsors: NSF, NASA