Areas of Expertise
- Theoretical Astrophysics
- Supernovae & Gamma Ray Bursts
- Starburst Galaxies
- 1997 B.A. Physics and Philosophy, Lawrence University
- 1999 M.S. Physics, The University of Arizona
- 2002 Ph.D. Physics, The University of Arizona
A member of the faculty since 2007, Prof. Thompson is a theoretical astrophysicist with broad interests. He is a principal developer of the “millisecond magnetar” model for the central engine of gamma-ray bursts and the idea that the growth of galaxies and their black holes might be regulated by radiation pressure of photons on dust grains. Prof. Thompson has also made significant contributions to the theory of core-collapse supernovae, the origin of the r-process elements during neutron star formation, and the physics of the far-infrared radio correlation of star-forming galaxies. In addition to continuing work on all of these topics, his recent research includes efforts to understand the high-energy (GeV-TeV) emission from cosmic rays in galaxies, the dynamics of triple star systems composed of compact objects, and the demographics of dusty massive stars. He uses a combination of analytic, semi-analytic, and numerical calculations to explore these topics. An accomplished teacher, in 2014 he became the only professor in the history of the Astronomy Department to receive the OSU Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, the university's highest award for teaching.