Research Overview

Understanding the evolution of the interstellar medium (ISM) has been a catalyst for my astrophysical career. My initial discovery that multiple supernovae were required to model the Local Hot Bubble (Smith et al. 2001a) led to a new approach to the analysis of X-ray spectra, and my interests further broadened as I then became an expert in X- ray spectroscopy and, in particular, the atomic physics required to extract physical parameters from spectra (Smith et al. 2001b). As this expertise applied generally – to research in abundances and turbulence in galaxy clusters, the chemical composition ofthe Galaxy, and the plasmas found in supernova remnants amongst others – it has led to collaborations working in nearly all areas of X-ray astronomy.

In particular, I study the formation and composition of interstellar grains as revealed by X-ray scattering, the origin of the soft X-ray background, including both the local hot bubble and solar wind charge exchange, the origin of mixed- morphology supernova remnants from both observational and theoretical modeling, and ISM studies via absorption spectroscopy of X-ray binaries. I also work on other topics involving X-ray spectroscopy, including studying accretion processes in symbiotic stars and other compact sources.

I also now lead the development and maintenance of a collisional plasma code and atomic database called the AtomDB.

My general interests are as follows: