Nuclear astrophysics from low-energy QCD

A major long-term goal is to understand how the strong nuclear force shapes the structure, evolution, and observable emissions of high-energy astrophysical systems, such as core-collapse supernovae, neutron stars, and neutron star mergers. To support this effort, Professor Holt works to develop microscopic models of hot and dense neutron-rich matter based on the low-energy effective field theory of strong interactions. The nuclear thermodynamic equation of state, governing neutron star structure as well as the hydrodynamic evolution of supernovae and neutron star mergers, is being investigated across the range of extreme astrophysical conditions needed for accurate numerical simulations on supercomputers. This will enable more reliable predictions for the electromagnetic, neutrino, and gravitational wave signals from supernovae and neutron star mergers. The nucleon single-particle potential and spectral properties are being computed and parametrized in a form suitable for nucleosynthesis studies of neutrino-driven winds in core-collapse supernovae and the tidally-ejected matter in neutron star mergers. Professor Holt is also utilizing quantum Monte Carlo simulations of dilute neutron matter to investigate the effect of neutron pairing on transport and cooling phenomena in proto-neutron stars.