How do things evolve in the universe? How are particles accelerated in the universe?
Professor Petrosian’s research covers many topics in the broad area of theoretical astrophysics and cosmology, with a strong focus on high-energy astrophysical processes.
Cosmological studies deal with global properties of the universe, where the main focus is the understanding of the evolution of the universe at high redshifts, through studies of the evolutions of population of sources such as galaxies and quasars or active galactic nuclei, gamma-ray bursts, using new statistical techniques developed in collaboration with Prof. B. Efron of the Department of Statistics. Another area of research is the use of gravitational lensing in measuring mass in the universe.
High-energy astrophysics research involves interpretation of non-thermal astronomical sources where particles are accelerated to very high energies and emit various kinds of radiation. These processes occur on many scales and in all sorts of objects: in the magnetosphere of planets, in the interplanetary space, during solar and stellar flares, in the accretion disks and jets around stellar-size and super-massive black holes, at centers of galaxies, in gamma-ray bursts, in supernovae, and in the intra-cluster medium of clusters of galaxies. Plasma physics processes common in all these sources for acceleration of particles and their radiative signature is the main focus of the research here.