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Anatoly Spitkovsky 

PI (Neutron Stars)

I am a Professor in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University. I received my undergraduate degree in Physics from California Institute of Technology and PhD in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley. I was then a Chandra postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University prior to starting on the faculty at Princeton. My research interests are in theoretical high-energy astrophysics, where I use numerical simulations to study neutron star magnetospheres and the origin of energetic particles in the cosmos. 

I am fascinated by the physics of pulsars — rotating neutron stars with strong magnetic fields. Together with collaborators, I have developed a number of numerical models of pulsar magnetospheres in order to determine the shape of the magnetosphere and the regions that are responsible for particle acceleration and radiation. One of the interesting findings of this work is the determination of the source of high energy emission that lies in a region of intense current in the outer magnetosphere. Recent simulations of this kind have recently allowed us to probe the origin of pulsar radio emission. I am looking forward to applying these tools to understanding the physics of fast radio bursts (FRBs), which are enigmatic bursts of radio emission likely connected to neutron stars. 

The theme of particle acceleration to extreme energies is also very interesting to me. I have studied particle acceleration in shock waves and reconnection, concentrating on plasma physics effects that lead to particle injection into the acceleration process. I am developing new numerical techniques for simulating the intrinsically multiscale physics of particle acceleration that would allow to model the macroscopic astrophysical objects while retaining small scale physics.  Working with
SCEECS team members, I am excited to study the potential of black hole jets for accelerating ultrahigh energy cosmic rays. 


Five recent relevant references

Spitkovsky, A. 2006, “Time-dependent Force-free Pulsar Magnetospheres: Axisymmetric and Oblique Rotators,” ApJL, 648, L51,

Sironi, L, Spitkovsky, A. 2014, “Relativistic Reconnection: An Efficient Source of Non-thermal Particles,” ApJL, 783, L21,

Park, J., Caprioli, D., Spitkovsky, A. 2015, “Simultaneous Acceleration of Protons and Electrons at Nonrelativistic Quasiparallel Collisionless Shocks,” PRL, 114, id:085003

Philippov A., Spitkovsky A. 2018, “Ab-Initio Pulsar Magnetosphere: Particle acceleration in Oblique Rotators and High-energy Emission Modeling,” ApJ, Volume 855, Issue 2, article id. 94,

Philippov A., Timokhin A., Spitkovsky A., 2020, “On the origin of pulsar radio emission,” PRL, volume 124, Issue 24, 245101,


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