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anthony mezzacappa
Anthony Mezzacappa
Newton W. and Wilma C. Thomas Chair of Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics

Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics
Office: 206 South College/ORNL
Phone: 865-974-2621

Brief Vita
  • PhD in Physics, University of Texas at Austin (1988)
  • MA in Physics, Columbia University (1982)
  • BS in Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1980)
  • Newton W. and Wilma C. Thomas Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Astrophysics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2012–Present)
  • Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2012–Present)
  • Corporate Fellow Emeritus, ORNL (2012–Present)
  • Director, University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (2012–2019)
  • Group Leader, Theoretical Physics, Physics Division, ORNL (2011–2012)
  • Joint Faculty Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UT, Knoxville (2009–2012)
  • Group Leader, Computational Astrophysics, Computer Science and Mathematics Division, ORNL (2006–2012)
  • Corporate Fellow (2005-2012)
  • Group Leader, Theoretical Astrophysics, Physics Division, ORNL (2003–2011)
  • Distinguished R&D Staff, Physics Division, ORNL (2002–2005)
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UT, Knoxville (2002-2011)
  • Senior R&D Staff, Physics Division, ORNL (2000–2002)
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UT, Knoxville (1996–2001)
  • R&D Staff, Physics Division, ORNL (1996-2000)
  • Adjoint Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Vanderbilt University (1996–1999)
  • Research Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, UT, Knoxville (1994–1996)
  • Research Associate, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1990–1994)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Physics, University of Pennsylvania (1988–1990)

Selected Honors
  • UT-Battelle Corporate Fellow (2005)
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society (2004)
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (1999)
  • Lockheed-Martin Technical Achievement Award (1999)
  • Department of Energy Young Scientist Award (1998)

Research Areas

Mezzacappa’s research group is focused on the development of (1) the formalism for 3+1 general relativistic neutrino radiation (magneto)hydrodynamics, (2) discretizations of the integro-partial differential equations of this formalism, (3) solution methods to solve these discretized equations, and (4) computer code based on these solution methods that will take advantage of leadership-class supercomputing architectures. Mezzacappa’s group also focuses on the application of this code to simulations of general relativistic astrophysical phenomena, such as core collapse supernovae.

Core collapse supernovae are the death throes of massive stars, more than eight to ten times the mass of the Sun. They are directly or indirectly responsible for the lion’s share of the elements in the Universe, without which life would not be possible. Mezzacappa’s group is focused on ascertaining the core collapse supernova explosion mechanism – that is, on how these stars die in what are ultimately stellar-scale catastrophic explosions. Core collapse supernovae are three-dimensional, multi-physics events, involving general relativistic neutrino transport, (magneto)hydrodynamics, and gravity. In most cases, they are driven by neutrinos. In a small percentage of cases, they are driven by magnetic fields. Neutrinos are produced in copious amounts in the collapsing cores of dying massive stars, transport through the high-density stellar core, and interact with it. These interactions ultimately heat the core beneath a shock wave that forms when the collapse is halted. As a result of this heating, the shock wave is able to power its way through the star and disrupt it. In a small fraction of cases, significant rotation is present in the stellar core, leading to an explosion mediated by magnetic forces, not neutrino heating.

Through its simulations of core collapse supernovae, Mezzacappa’s group is also interested in making predictions for their neutrino and gravitational wave emission. Detection of these neutrinos and gravitational waves can then be used to test core collapse supernova models, as well as test fundamental neutrino and nuclear physics that is not accessible in Terrestrial experiments.

Google Scholar Profile

Select Invited Reviews
  1. Mezzacappa, A., Endeve, E., Bruenn, S.W., and Messer, O.E.B. 2020. The Physical, Numerical, and Computational Challenges of Modeling Neutrino Transport in Core Collapse Supernovae. Living Reviews in Computational Astrophysics 6:4.
  2. Mezzacappa, A.  2005.  Ascertaining the Core Collapse Supernova Mechanism: Current Models, Gaps, and the Road Ahead. Ann. Rev. Nucl. Part. Sci. 55, 467-515.
  3. Mezzacappa, A., Liebendörfer, M., Cardall, C. Y., Messer, O.E.B., and Bruenn, S. W.  2004.  Neutrino Transport in Core-Collapse Supernovae, pp. 99–131. In Stellar Collapse, Fryer, C. L. (ed.), Astrophysics and Space Science Library 302, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
  4. Mezzacappa, A. and Messer, O.E.B.  1999.  Neutrino Transport in Core-Collapse Supernovae. Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics 109, 281–319.

Select Journal Articles
  1. Pochik, D., Barker, B.L., Endeve, E., Buffaloe, J., Dunham, S.J., Roberts, J.N., and Mezzacappa, A. 2021. thornado-hydro: A Discontinuous Galerkin Method for Supernova Hydrodynamics with Nuclear Equations of State. Ap.J. Suppl. 253, 21.
  2. Mezzacappa, A., Maronetti, P., Landfield, R.E., Lentz, E.J., Yakunin, K.N., Bruenn, S.W., Hix, W.R., Messer, O.E.B., Endeve, E., Blondin, J.M., Harris, A.J. 2020. The Gravitational Wave Signal of a Core Collapse Supernova of a 15 Solar Mass Star. Phys. Rev. D, 102, 023027.
  3. Bruenn, S. W., Blondin, J. M., Hix, W. R., Lentz, E. J., Messer, O. E. B., Mezzacappa, A., Endeve, E., Harris, J. A., Marronetti, P., Budiardja, R. D., Chertkow, M. A., Lee, C.-T. 2020. Chimera: A massively parallel code for core-collapse supernova simulation. Ap.J. Suppl. 248, 11.
  4. Chu, R., Endeve, E., Hauck, C., Mezzacappa, A. 2019. Realizability-Preserving DG-IMEX Method for the Two-Moment Model of Fermion Transport. JCP 389, 62.
  5. Blondin, J.M., Gipson, E., Harris, S., and Mezzacappa, A. 2017. The Standing Accretion Shock Instability: Enhanced Growth in Rotating Progenitors. Ap.J. 835, 170.
  6. Bruenn, S.W., Lentz, E.J., Hix, W. R., Mezzacappa, A., Harris, J.A., Messer, O. E.B., Endeve, E., Blondin, J.M., Chertkow, M.A., Lingerfelt, E.J., Marronetti, P., Yakunin, K.N. 2016. The Development of Explosions in Axisymmetric Ab Initio Core-Collapse Supernova Simulations of 12-25 M Stars. Ap.J. 818, 123.
  7. Yakunin, K.N., Mezzacappa, A., Maronetti, P., Yoshida, S., Bruenn, S.W., Hix, W.R., Lentz, E.J., Messer, O.E.B., Harris, J.A., Endeve, E., Blondin, J.M., and Lingerfelt, E. 2015. Gravitational wave signatures of ab initio two-dimensional core collapse supernova explosion models for 12 – 15 Solar mass stars. Phys. Rev. D. 92, 084040.
  8. Lentz, E.J., Bruenn, S.W., Hix, W.R., Mezzacappa, A., Messer, O.E.B., Endeve, E., Blondin, J.M., Harris, J.A., Maronetti, P., and Yakunin, K.N. 2015. Three-dimensional core-collapse supernova simulated using a 15 Solar mass progenitor. Ap.J. Lett. 807, L31.
  9. Endeve, E., Hauck, C.D., Xing, Y., Mezzacappa, A. 2015. Bound-Preserving Discontinuous Galerkin Methods for Conservative Phase Space Advection in Curvilinear Coordinates. J. Comp. Phys. 287, 151.
  10. Cardall, C.Y., Endeve, E., and Mezzacappa A. 2013. Conservative 3+1 general relativistic Boltzmann equation. Phys. Rev. D, 88, 023011.
  11. Cardall, C.Y., Endeve, E., and Mezzacappa A. 2013. Conservative 3+1 general relativistic variable Eddington tensor radiation transport equations. Phys. Rev. D, 87, 103004.
  12. Bruenn, S.W., Mezzacappa, A., Hix, W.R., Lentz. E.J., Messer, O.E.B., Lingerfelt, E.J., Blondin, J.M., Endeve, E., Marronetti, P. and Yakunin, K. 2013. Axisymmetric Ab Initio Core-Collapse Supernova Simulations of 12 – 25 Solar Mass Stars. Ap.J. Lett. 767, L6.
  13. Lentz, E.J., Mezzacappa, A., Messer, O.E.B., Liebendörfer, M. Hix, W.R., and Bruenn, S.W. 2012. On the Interplay of Neutrino Opacities in Core-collapse Supernovae. Ap.J. 760, 94.
  14. Endeve, E., Cardall, C.Y., Budiardja, R.D., Beck, S.W., Bejnood, A., Toedte, R.J., and Mezzacappa, A. 2012. Turbulent Magnetic Field Amplification from Spiral SASI Modes: Implications for Core-Collapse Supernovae and Proto-Neutron Star Magnetization. Ap.J. 751, 26.
  15. Lentz, E.J., Mezzacappa, A., Messer, O.E.B., Liebendörfer, M., Hix, W.R., Bruenn, S.W. 2012. On the Requirements for Realistic Modeling of Neutrino Transport in Simulations of Core-collapse Supernovae. Ap. J. 747, 73.
  16. Endeve, E., Cardall, C. Y., Budiardja, R. D., and Mezzacappa, A.  2010. Generation of Magnetic Fields by the Stationary Accretion Shock Instability. Ap.J. 713, 1219.
  17. Blondin, J. M. and Mezzacappa, A.  2007.  Pulsar Spins from an Instability in the Accretion Shock of Supernovae. Nature 445, 58.
  18. Blondin, J. M. and Mezzacappa, A.  2006.  The Spherical Accretion Shock Instability in the Linear Regime. Ap. J. 642, 401.
  19. Liebendörfer, M., Messer, O.E.B., Mezzacappa, A., Bruenn, S. W., Cardall, C. Y., and Thielemann, F.-K.  2004.  A Finite Difference Representation of Neutrino Radiation Hydrodynamics for Spherically Symmetric General Relativistic Supernova Simulations. Ap. J. Suppl. 150, 263.
  20. Hix, W. R., Messer, O.E.B., Mezzacappa, A., Sampaio, J., Langanke, K., Dean, D. J., and Martinez-Pinedo, G. 2003.  The Consequences of Nuclear Electron Capture in Core-Collapse Supernovae. Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 201102.
  21. Langanke, K., Martinez-Pinedo, G., Sampaio, J. M., Dean, D. J., Hix, W. R., Messer, O.E.B., Mezzacappa, A., Liebendörfer, M., Janka, H.-T., and Rampp, M. 2003.  Electron Capture Rates on Nuclei and Implications for Stellar Core Collapse. Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 241102.
  22. Cardall, C. Y. and Mezzacappa, A.  2003.  Conservative Formulations of Relativistic Kinetic Theory. Phys. Rev. D68, 023006.
  23. Blondin, J. M., Mezzacappa, A., and DeMarino, C.  2003.  Stability of Standing Accretion Shocks, with an Eye Toward Core-Collapse Supernovae. Ap. J. 584, 971.
  24. Bruenn, S. W., DeNisco, K. R., and Mezzacappa, A.  2001.  General Relativistic Effects in the Core-Collapse Supernova Mechanism. Ap. J. 560, 326.
  25. Liebendörfer, M., Mezzacappa, A., and Thielemann, F.-K.  2001.  Conservative General Relativistic Radiation Hydrodynamics in Spherical Symmetry and Comoving Coordinates. Phys. Rev. D63, 104003.
  26. Liebendörfer, M., Mezzacappa, A., Thielemann, F.-K., Messer, O.E.B., Hix, W. R., and Bruenn, S. W.  2001.  Probing the gravitational well:  No supernova explosion in spherical symmetry with general relativistic Boltzmann neutrino transport. Phys. Rev. D63, 103004.
  27. Mezzacappa, A., Liebendörfer, M., Messer, O.E.B., Hix, W. R., Thielemann, F.-K., and Bruenn, S. W.  2001.  Simulation of the Spherically Symmetric Stellar Core Collapse, Bounce, and Postbounce Evolution of a Star of 13 Solar Masses with Boltzmann Neutrino Transport, and Its Implications for the Supernova Mechanism. Phys. Rev. Lett. 86, 1935.
  28. Mezzacappa, A. and Bruenn, S. W.  1993.  Stellar Core Collapse:  A Boltzmann Treatment of Neutrino-Electron Scattering. Ap. J. 410, 740.
  29. Mezzacappa, A. and Bruenn, S. W.  1993.  A Numerical Method for Solving the Neutrino Boltzmann Equation Coupled to Spherically Symmetric Stellar Core Collapse. Ap. J. 405, 669.
  30. Mezzacappa, A. and Bruenn, S. W.  1993.  Type II Supernovae and Boltzmann Neutrino Transport:  The Infall Phase. Ap. J. 405, 637.
  31. Mezzacappa, A. and Matzner, R. A.  1989.  Computer Simulation of Time-Dependent, Spherically Symmetric Space Times Containing Radiating Fluids - Formalism and Code Tests. Ap. J. 343, 853.



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