Math Prof. Pays Tribute To Mentor With Stellar Winds Research

Bhimsen Shivamoggi, Ph.D., recently capped three years of research with a publication that presents new ideas about the dynamics of stellar winds.

But that’s not what makes him most excited.

Shivamoggi is an applied mathematician by trade, but he ventured into the new territory of mainstream astrophysics as an intellectual tribute to his mentor Gene Parker, Ph.D.. Parker, now an emeritus professor at the University of Chicago, was the first to advance the idea of a steady stream of charged gases flowing from the sun past the earth — what is now called solar wind. Parker’s groundbreaking article in 1958 set the stage for a whole new field of exploration into stellar dynamics.

Shivamoggi first met Parker at an astrophysics meeting in Alpbach, Austria ten years ago.  This encounter pushed Shivamoggi to try to advance the frontiers on a major astrophysics problem initiated by Parker.

“I feel so privileged to be a recipient of Parker’s benevolent mentorship,” Shivamoggi said.

Shivamoggi’s research gives an analytical formulation and uses the analogy of a rocket or jet engine’s afterburner to explain why rapidly spinning protostars are not broken up by their own massive centrifugal force. Shivamoggi’s idealized model is based on a key assumption of co-rotation between the stellar wind and its star, which was vindicated by the recent observations made by the Parker Solar Probe.

His paper was published in the journal Physics of Plasmas, and appeared as an editor’s pick for 2020.

While Shivamoggi is happy to further scientific understanding of stellar winds, it’s the opportunity to pay a tribute to his mentor, Parker, that means the most.

“It’s my personal gift to Parker,” Shivamoggi said.


Comments are closed.