Tom Abel

Tom Abel

Professor of Particle Physics and Astrophysics and of Physics
(650) 926-2421
Faculty Research Interests
Numerical Cosmology

Tom's current research focuses on studying the formation and evolution of galaxies with new numerical techniques, however, he enjoys all areas of non-linear physics which can be addressed using supercomputer calculations! His research interests span dark matter dynamics, the physics of collisionless shocks, investigating the role that cosmic rays and magnetic fields play in the formation and evolution of galaxies, modeling the formation of stars and black holes as well as turbulence, and applications of numerical general relativity.

Visualizations of Dark Matter / Large Scale Structure by R. Kähler and T. Abel. Simulation credit to O. Hahn and T. Abel.

What were the first objects that formed in the Universe? Prof. Abel's group explores the first billion years of cosmic history using ab initio supercomputer calculations. He has shown from first principles that the very first luminous objects are very massive stars and has developed novel numerical algorithms using adaptive-mesh-refinement simulations that capture over 14 orders of magnitude in length and time scales. He currently continues his work on the first stars and first galaxies and their role in chemical enrichment and cosmological reionization. His group studies any of the first objects to form in the universe: first stars, first supernovae, first HII regions, first magnetic fields, first heavy elements, and so on. Most recently he is pioneering novel numerical algorithms to study collisionless fluids such as dark matter which makes up most of the mass in the Universe as well as astrophysical and terrestrial plasmas. He was the director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology and Division Director at SLAC 2013-2018.

Research projects