3-913, Physics and Astronomy
Positions held in the past:
Hubble Fellow, Princeton University
Research Associate, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
Ph.D., 1996, California Institute of Technology
Undergraduate: University of Natal, Durban
High School: St Henry's College, Durban
Research Interests: Theoretical Astrophysics
White Dwarfs are the end product of stellar evolution for most stars (except for those massive enough to explode as supernovae). As such, the study of old white dwarfs can tell us a lot about the history of star formation in our Galaxy. By the time a star has reached the white dwarf stage, it has exhausted all the nuclear burning resources with which it was born. With no remaining reservoir of energy supply white dwarfs slowly cool and fade over time. I have worked a lot on theoretical models for the evolution and appearance of white dwarfs of different kinds. With my observational collaborators, I have used these models to estimate the ages of various stellar components of our Galaxy, including both the stars in the immediate vicinity of the sun and some of the nearest globular clusters. One of our recent results is a setting a lower limit on the age of our Galaxy of approximately 11 billion years.
Extrasolar Planets 
are also a subject of some interest to me, both the theoretical and observational side. I am interested in both the dynamics and structure of extrasolar planets. Most of my recent work has been focussed on understanding various issues related to giant planets that orbit close to their parent stars. The structure of these planets is strongly affected by the irradiation they receive from the star and this leads to a variety of interesting questions. A recent highlight includes the first detection of a phase variable brightness from one of these systems, which suggests that the planet has different temperatures on the side facing the star and on the side facing away from the star. We are working to understand how this comes about, what it says about the nature of the atmosphere and how this might be reflected in other observations.
Neutron Stars and Black Holes are the first objects I worked on, during my PHD. My most recent interest in this subject concerns the black hole at the center of our Galaxy and the immediate environment. With my students Steve Berukoff and Elliot Koch, I have been studying the dynamics of thousand-solar mass black holes orbiting the main black hole. We believe these `intermediate mass' black holes may have played an important role in the transport of young stars to the Galactic center and they will have an important influence on the resulting dynamics.
|Selected Recent Publications:|
I. J. Crossfield, T. Barman & B. Hansen
``High-resolution, Differential, Near-infrared Transmission Spectroscopy of GJ 1214b''
Astrophysical Journal, Vol 736, Page 132 (2011)
I. J. Crossfield, B. Hansen, J. Harrington, J. Cho , D. Deming, K. Menou, S. Seager
``A new 24 micron Phase Curve for upsilon Andromedae b''
Astrophysical Journal, Vol 723, Page 1436 (2010)
`` On the Absorption and Redistribution of Energy in Irradiated Planets''
Astrophysical Journal Supplements, Vol 179, Page 484 (2008)
Planet Dynamics :
B. Hansen & N. Murray
``Migration then Assembly: Formation of Neptune-mass Planets inside 1 AU''
Astrophysical Journal, Vol 751, Page 158 (2012)
``Calibration of Equilibrium Tide Theory for Extrasolar Planet Systems''
Astrophysical Journal, Vol 723, Page 285 (2010)
``Formation of the Terrestrial Planets from a Narrow Annulus''
Astrophysical Journal, Vol 703, Page 1131 (2009)
White Dwarf Cooling:
E. Y. Chen & B. Hansen
``Cooling curves and chemical evolution curves of convective mixing white dwarf stars''
Monthly Notices of Royal Astronomical Society, Vol 413, Page 2828 (2011)
B. Hansen et al.
``The White Dwarf Cooling Sequence of NGC6397''
Astrophysical Journal, Vol 671, Page 380 (2007)