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Brown, Benjamin P Assistant Professor

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Research

research overview

  • Dr. Brown's research focuses on astrophysical fluid dynamics and magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) of stellar interiors and Jovian planetary atmospheres. Brown explores stellar dynamo physics and planetary atmosphere physics through numerical simulations on massively-parallel supercomputers. This research is conducted using the open-source Dedalus pseudospectral framework, along with the MESA stellar structure code. Brown's research focuses especially on global-scale dynamo action and the properties of convection, studying how large-scale fields can be built in the convection zone of a star. Further research is exploring how such dynamos couple to the stably-stratified radiative interior through tachoclines of shear and penetrative convection, and has lead to improved treatments of gravity waves within anelastic and other low-mach number models. Results from these dynamo models are being connected with astrophysical observations and laboratory based dynamo experiments.

keywords

  • magnetohydrodynamics, dynamo physics, compressible convection, atmospheric physics

Publications

selected publications

Teaching

courses taught

  • ASTR 1000 - The Solar System
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Introduction to the night sky, planets, moons and the life in our solar system. Highlights the latest discoveries from space. For non-science majors. Some lectures may be held at Fiske Planetarium. Offers opportunities for nighttime observations at Sommers-Bausch Observatory. Similar to ASTR 1010, but without lab. Degree credit not granted for this course and ASTR 1010 or ASTR 1030.
  • ASTR 1030 - Accelerated Introductory Astronomy 1
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019
    Covers principles of modern astronomy summarizing our present knowledge about the Earth, Sun, moon, planets and origin of life. Requires nighttime observation sessions at Sommers-Bausch Observatory. Required in ASTR major/minor. Like ASTR 1000 and 1010, but taught at a higher intellectual level, including a significant amount of quantitative analysis. Degree credit not granted for this course and ASTR 1000 or ASTR 1010.
  • ASTR 5400 - Introduction to Fluid Dynamics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2020
    Covers equations of fluid motion relevant to planetary atmospheres and oceans and stellar atmospheres; effects of rotation and viscosity; and vorticity dynamics, boundary layers and wave motions. Introduces instability theory, nonlinear equilibration and computational methods in fluid dynamics. Same as ATOC 5400.
  • ASTR 5410 - Fluid Instabilities, Waves, and Turbulence
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018
    Involves linear and nonlinear analyses of small-scale waves and instabilities in stratified fluids, with effects of rotation. Studies internal gravity and acoustic waves with terrestrial, planetary and astrophysical applications. Studies thermal and double-diffusive convection, homogeneous and stratified shear flow instabilities. Examines these topics from the onset of small amplitude disturbances to their nonlinear development and equilibration. Department enforced prerequisite: ASTR 5400 or ATOC 5060. Same as ATOC 5410.
  • ASTR 5550 - Observations, Data Analysis and Statistics
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019
    Introduces multi-wavelength observational techniques,their limitations and effects of various noise sources. Describes basic data handling, error analysis, and statistical tests relevant to modeling. Topics include probability distributions, model-fitting algorithms, confidence intervals, correlations, sampling and convolution. Students derive physical measurements and uncertainties with hands-on analysis of real datasets. Department enforced prerequisite: senior level undergraduate physics or instructor consent will be required.

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