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Research topics



An updated list of publications can be found here.


A description of selected research achievements can be found below.

Black hole jets and magnetospheres

My research work related to relativistic jets is principally focused on the physics of their central engine. It has connections with recent observations, like the emission ring around the M87 black hole recently reported by the Event Horizon Telescope, or gamma-ray bursts -- flashes of highly energetic gamma rays lasting from less than a second to several minutes and producing as much energy as the sun will emit during its entire 10-billion-year life! Gamma-ray bursts are associated with the formation of relativistic jets around stellar mass black holes, shortly after the collapse of a massive star or the merger of two neutron stars.

  • I studied the jet formation around Kerr black holes by calculating GRMHD inflow-outflow solutions where the rotational energy can be extracted from the black hole and showed that there is a critical energy load for the Blandford-Znajek mechanism to operate. Publication

  • I studied the collimation of magnetic jets by disc winds and showed that the M87 jet profile can be reproduced if the jet is collimated by a hydrodynamical disk wind with luminosity ~10% of the jet luminosity. The HST-1 knot can be due to the focusing of the magnetized jet due to the change in the pressure profile around the Bondi radius. Publication.

Multimessenger Astrophysics

My research work related to cosmic-rays has connections with recent discoveries, like the dipole anisotropy or the high energy hotspots reported by the Telescope Array Collaboration - which I am a member of - and the Pierre Auger Observatory. I also study the multi-messenger signatures (gamma-rays and neutrinos) of cosmic-ray acceleration in high energy sources and the propagation of ultra-high cosmic rays in the extragalactic and Galactic magnetic fields to interpret the Auger and Telescope Array data and make predictions for future neutrino facilities.

  • I co-authored a numerical code to calculate the acceleration of cosmic rays at gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) internal shocks, including all the relevant energy loss processes experienced by the protons and nuclei, and the production of neutrinos and gamma-rays. We predicted a softer proton component as a distinctive signature of gamma-ray bursts. Publication.

  • I investigated shear acceleration and diffusive shock acceleration at collimation shocks, internal shocks, shock breakout, and external shocks to provide estimates for neutrino and cosmic-ray signals from self-consistent simulations of gamma-ray bursts jets associated with binary neutron star mergers and the application to 170817. Publication.

  • I studied the Galactic-to-extragalactic cosmic-ray transition and showed that a simple generic model with a softer proton component can account for the evolution of the spectrum and composition observed by KASCADE-Grande and Auger. Publication.

  • I calculated the lifetime of small scale anisotropies in the interstellar turbulence, and showed that the lifetime of a cosmic-ray hot spot over a 5 years observation period depends on the direction of the source. Publication.

  • I investigated the origin of cosmic ray anisotropies, with a focus on interpretation of the first significant large scale "dipole" anisotropy reported by the Pierre Auger Collaboration. I authored a code to calculate the anisotropy of cosmic rays from the large scale structure, using constrained cosmological simulations. The observed energy dependence of the dipole anisotropy is a natural consequence of the evolution of the size of the cosmic rays observable universe (due to the GZK effect). Publication.

  • I mentored a student (Chen Ding) during two years to study the energy dependence of the direction of the dipole. This study shows that the direction and amplitude of the dipole anisotropy is well accounted for when the cosmic-ray source distribution follows the large scale structure, using the Jansson and Farrar state-of-the-art model for the Galactic magnetic field In the press. Publication.

Spin-polarized cosmic radiation and the origin of life


The origin of biological homochirality has been an intense field of research and debate since its discovery by Pasteur in 1848. The weak force, one of the fundamental forces operating in nature, is parity-violating. Cosmic ray muons are caused by a decay involving the weak force and hence, they are spin-polarized. At ground level, nearly 85% of the cosmic radiation dose comes from muons. I proposed that spin-polarized muons could induce persistent structural changes in helical polymers, thereby enabling the emergence of homochirality and I am now working on developing experimental methods to test this idea.

  • The difference in the probability of ionization by a spin-polarized cosmic ray is higher for helical polymers of different handedness - such as left and right-handed DNA - than for simple enantiomers such as amino acids or sugars. Publication.

  • This ionization difference, translated in a difference in the mutation rate, can influence the evolution of primitive self-replicating polymers, and lead to the emergence of homochirality. In the press, invited news items in Nature and in Scientific American

  • We predicted that the biological response depends on the polarization on the radiation and calculated the spin-polarized radiation doses at different environments (Mars, Venus, Titan, small bodies of the solar system). Publication.

  • ​We are developing experiments to study the interaction between polarized radiation and biopolymers (with a focus on DNA) with colleagues from various Departments at the University of California Santa-Cruz and KIPAC. KIPAC Blog post

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