The first Scultetus visiting scientist is working at CASUS in Görlitz: Dr. Shota Shibagaki has been selected within a Scultetus program dedicated to senior researchers. The Japanese astrophysicist is a supernova simulation expert. Joining CASUS for this research stay from the University of Wrocław (Poland), Shota started a new project on core-collapse supernovae in March.

The Scultetus Visiting Scientist program is a pivotal part of CASUS’ efforts to foster innovation, collaboration, and knowledge exchange within the research community. It stands for CASUS’ commitment to establishing meaningful partnerships and promoting talent from all over the world. “Scultetus visiting scientists enrich our institute with their expertise and fresh perspectives, injecting energy into our research and fostering interdisciplinary connections,” says Dr. Weronika Schlechte-Wełnicz, Head of the Scultetus Center. Beyond organizing short research stays for scientists of different experience levels, the Scultetus Center also hosts workshops, symposia, conferences as well as summer schools on complex systems research.

The core-collapse supernovae Shota Shibagaki is studying are dramatic explosions of giant stars at the end of their thermonuclear evolution that give birth to neutron stars and black holes. They are the most energetic outbursts in the modern universe with an energy output in excess of an entire galaxy – containing billions of stars – for the period of several months. The understanding of such events requires a profound knowledge about all four fundamental forces of nature – gravity, electromagnetism, strong, and weak interactions – as well as large-scale numerical modeling.

Core-collapse supernovae stand as cosmic spectacles, marking the dramatic conclusion of stars surpassing nine solar masses. Despite their celestial significance, traditional models have grappled with accurately predicting the explosive energies that characterize these cosmic events: In comparison to the observations made the models predict lower explosion energies. Shota’s project represents an endeavor to advance supernova modeling by seamlessly integrating cutting-edge input physics within the framework of general relativity. At the heart of this pursuit lies the incorporation of new microscopic equations of state, aimed at bridging the divide between astrophysical observations and current simulations.

At the University of Wrocław, Shota is currently working as an Adiunkt (Assistant Professor) in the Division of Elementary Particle Theory at the Institute of Theoretical Physics. He joined the University of Wrocław in October 2021 when he came from the Department of Applied Physics at the Faculty of Science of Fukuoka University (Japan). He received his doctorate in astronomy from the University of Tokyo (Japan) in 2017.

To a deeper understanding of the cosmos

“We are very thankful to have Shota here at CASUS,” adds Prof. David Blaschke, CASUS Visiting Professor. “His expertise, passion, and dedication are catalysts for innovation and discovery. I am very confident that his results will propel us toward a deeper understanding of the cosmos.”

Shota already took the opportunity to present his topic during his three-month stay at CASUS to fellow scientists at the center. As calculation time is a big factor which hinders faster progress, in particular when it comes to multi-dimensional simulations, tapping CASUS expertise might open new avenues. A simulation of the supernova segment where the explosion happens, for example, takes in one dimension about two weeks to a month, whereas in three dimensions it takes more than a year. At CASUS, Shota has been introduced to surrogate models developed at the center. He considers it a promising method and will try to make it applicable for his research topic. “One motivation to support Shota Shibagaki’s stay is the possibility to build academic bridges between Wrocław and Görlitz. Presenting the topic of simulating quantum chromodynamic phase transitions in supernovae to the CASUS team will surely ignite new scientific collaborations at the forefront of science,” says Blaschke with conviction.