Collaborative Research: SI2-SSE: Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics

Project: Research project

Project Details


Overview This is a proposal to support the Modules for Experiments in Stellar Astrophysics (MESA) software project and user community. MESA solves the 1D fully coupled structure and composition equations governing stellar evolution. It is based on an implicitnite dierence scheme with adaptive mesh renement and sophisticated timestep controls; state-of-the-art modules provide equation of state, opacity, nuclear reaction rates, element diusion, boundary conditions, and changes to the mass of the star. MESA employs contemporary numerical approaches, supports shared memory parallelism based on OpenMP, and is written with present and future shared- memory, multi-core, and multi-thread architectures in mind. MESA combines the numerical and physics modules for simulations of a wide range of stellar evolution scenarios ranging from very- low mass to massive stars. MESA's domain of applicability continues to grow, just recently extended to include giant planets, oscillations, and rotation. We will extend the scientic breadth of MESA to include non-adiabatic stellar pulsations and the numerical scope by adding operator split capability. The breadth of the demand by the stellar astrophysics community for a new, open-source research and education tool in computational stellar astrophysics led to our release of MESA in 2011 and the continued development and support since then. The MESA project has at- tracted over 500 registered users world-wide, witnessed over 5,000 downloads from http://mesa., conducts an annual Summer School program (e.g.,http://cococubed.asu. edu/mesa_summer_school_2013), provides a Software Developers Kit to build MESA, and a web portal for the community to openly share knowledge Our goal for this project is to sustain MESA as a key piece of software infrastructure for stellar astrophysics while building new scientic and educational networks. Intellectual Merit As the most commonly observed objects, stars remain at the forefront of astrophysical research. Advances in detector technology, computer processing power, and data storage capability have en- abled new sky surveys (e.g., the Sloan Digital Sky Survey); triggered many new optical transient surveys, such as the Palomar Transient Factory and Pan-STARRS1 that probe ever-larger areas of the sky and ever-fainter sources, opening up the vast discovery space of \time domain astron- omy"; and allowed for space missions (e.g., Kepler) that continuously monitor more than 100,000 stars. The stellar discoveries from these surveys include revelations about rare stars, unusual explosive outcomes, and remarkably complex binary star systems. The immediate future holds tremendous promise, as both the space-based survey Gaia and the ground based Large Synoptic Survey Telescope come to fruition. Our proposed eortsll a critical need recognized by the inter- national astrophysics community to secure a sustainable infrastructure for MESA and strengthen the advanced research and educational capability that MESA enables. Broader Impacts The ASTRO2010 Decadal survey reported that over 20% of the US astrophysics community is focused on stellar structure and evolution (about 1200 researchers). MESA has driven, and will continue to drive, innovation in this community as well as the exoplanet, galactic, and cosmological communities. Educators have widely deployed MESA in their undergraduate and graduate stellar evolution courses because MESA is an open source community platform with an active support network for leading-edge scientic investigations. Stellar astrophysics research, and all the com- munities that rely on stellar astrophysics, will be signicantly enhanced by sustaining innovative development of MESA.
Effective start/end date1/1/1412/31/17


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $306,840.00

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