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Alexander Heger

Adjunct Professor

alexander.heger @ •


Technical Staff Member, Theoretical Astrophysics Group, T-6, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2003-2010; Associate, The University of Chicago, 2004-2007; Associate Adjunct Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, UCSC, 2006-2008; Associate Professor, UMN, 2008-2012; Professor, School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, 2012-present.

Council of Graduate Students (COGS) Outstanding Faculty Award (2010). APS Fellow (2010). IAU Member (2009). PI, LANL DR "Coming out of the Cosmic Dark Ages - The First Stars in the Universe" (2004-2007); PI LANL ER "Finding the First Cosmic Explosions" (2007-2010); Co-I LANL DR "Cosmic Explosions Probing the Extreme: X-Ray Bursts, Superbursts, and Giant Flares on Neutron Stars" (2007-2010); Co-I DOE "SciDAC Center for Supernova Research" (2004-2006); Co-I DOE SciDAC "Computational Astrophysics Consortium - 3. Supernovae, Gamma-Ray Bursts, and Nucleosynthesis" (2006-2011); Co-I DOE Block Grant "Research in Nuclear Astrophysics" (2007-2011); Co-I DOE Topical Collaboration "Neutrinos and Nucleosynthesis in Hot and Dense Matter" (2010-2014). Organizer "Chemical Enrichment of the Early Universe", 2004, Santa Fe, NM; Organizer "The First Stars and Evolution of the Early Universe", 2006, INT (UW); Organizer "First Stars III", 2007, Santa Fe, NM. Held a piece of the moon in my hand (March 20, 2010).

Summary of Interests
Massive and very massive stars, the first stars, stellar rotation, nucleosynthesis, supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, X-ray bursts. [Research Web Page]

About My Work

When the Universe was born, it was at first devoid of most of the chemical elements necessary to life as we know it. There was only hydrogen and helium, in fact, made in just the first few minutes. It would take 100 million years for the first stars to form and forge the elements needed for life, like carbon and oxygen, in the inferno of the stellar interior and their final explosion as supernova, and to disperse these elements so that life could form.

I study the life and explosive death of massive stars and the origin of the elements, and am generally interested in nuclear astrophysics. Specifically, my work comprises the study of massive and very massive stars (10-1000 solar masses); the first generations of stars in the universe (Pop III stars); evolution of rotating massive stars and the spin of their remnants; mixing and transport processes in the stellar interior; nucleosynthesis and the origin of elements, including galacto-chemical evolution - which elements are made where and when; supernovae (mechanisms and nucleosynthesis); gamma-ray bursts (collapsars and similar models) and their progenitors; modeling of Type I X-ray bursts and superbursts (thermonuclear explosions on the surface of neutron stars). "I blow up stars for a living."

Selected Publications

Heger, A, Woosley, S. E, Nucleosynthesis and Evolution of Massive Metal-free Stars, The Astrophysical Journal [abstract]

Heger, A.; Fryer, C. L.; Woosley, S. E.; Langer, N.; Hartmann, D. H., How Massive Single Stars End Their Life, The Astrophysical Journal [abstract]

Woosley, S. E.; Heger, A.; Weaver, T. A., The evolution and explosion of massive stars, Reviews of Modern Physics [abstract]

Woosley, S. E.; Blinnikov, S.; Heger, A., Pulsational pair instability as an explanation for the most luminous supernovae, Nature [abstract]

Heger, A.; Kolbe, E.; Haxton, W. C.; Langanke, K.; Martínez-Pinedo, G.; Woosley, S. E., Neutrino nucleosynthesis, Physics Letters B [abstract]

Woosley, S. E.; Heger, A.; Cumming, A.; Hoffman, R. D.; Pruet, J.; Rauscher, T.; Fisker, J. L.; Schatz, H.; Brown, B. A.; Wiescher, M. , Models for Type I X-Ray Bursts with Improved Nuclear Physics, The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series [abstract]

Rauscher, T.; Heger, A.; Hoffman, R. D.; Woosley, S. E., Nucleosynthesis in Massive Stars with Improved Nuclear and Stellar Physics, The Astrophysical Journal [abstract]

Heger, A.; Woosley, S. E., The Nucleosynthetic Signature of Population III, The Astrophysical Journal [abstract]

Brown, G. E.; Heger, A.; Langer, N.; Lee, C.-H.; Wellstein, S.; Bethe, H. A., Formation of high mass X-ray black hole binaries, New Astronomy [abstract]

MacFadyen, A. I.; Woosley, S. E.; Heger, A., Supernovae, Jets, and Collapsars, The Astrophysical Journal [abstract]

Heger, A.; Langer, N.; Woosley, S. E., Presupernova Evolution of Rotating Massive Stars. I. Numerical Method and Evolution of the Internal Stellar Structure, The Astrophysical Journal, [abstract]


Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.), Technical University of Munich, 1998.
M.S. (Diplom), Technical University of Munich, 1995.
B.S. (Vordiplom), Technical University of Munich, 1991.