Eliot Quataert

Elliot quataert

Eliot Quataert

Astronomy & Physics

UC Berkeley Astronomy Department
501 Campbell Hall #3411
Berkeley, CA 94720-3411

Email address


Specialty areas

Compact Objects, Galaxy Formation, High Energy Astrophysics.


I was born in Santa Monica, California on June 19, 1973, lived for almost 12 years in Houston,Texas, and spent my high school years in Vestal, New York (upstate near the border between NY and PA).  I received my B.S. in Physics from MIT in 1995 (carrying out research with Pawan Kumar) and my Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University  in 1999 (under the supervision of Ramesh Narayan).   I was a postdoc in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study for 2 years before coming to Berkeley in 2001.

When I can find the time, I enjoy nature photography.   I also enjoy cooking, hiking, gardening (growing food, that is), and reading.

Eliot Quataert is a Professor of Astronomy and Physics at UC Berkeley and the Director of the Theoretical Astrophysics Center.   Quataert is an astrophysics theorist who works on a wide range of problems, from the astrophysics of stars and black holes to how galaxies form.  He has received a number of national awards for his research and is also a highly regarded teacher and public lecturer.  In 2012, Quataert was among 21 mathematicians, theoretical physicists and theoretical computer scientists across the country chosen as a Simons Investigator.


Note:   Class websites are now via bcourses.  Below are out of date but have some links to readings, web resources, etc.

Astronomy & Integrative Biology C13:   From the Big Bang to the Emergence of Humans   Online Webcasts  Syllabus

Astro 7A:  Introduction to Astrophysics           Astro 160:  Stellar Physics         Astro 252:  Stellar Structure and Evolution

Astro 202:  Astrophysical Gas Dynamics        Astro 250:   Special Topics in Astrophysics:  Accretion Disks

Astro 292:  The Formation and Evolution of Massive Black Holes      Astro 24:  Black Holes:  The Science Behind the Science Fiction


Postdoctoral:   The Theoretical Astrophysics Center at UC Berkeley has several prize postdoctoral fellowships.

Graduate & Undergraduate:  I am happy to talk with interested students at any time.

Previous Undergraduate Students:  Naveed Ahmad, Keaton Burns, Hannah Klion, Alwin Mao

Current Graduate Students:   Kareem el-Badry, Hannah Klion, Drummond Fielding, Sean Ressler

Previous graduate students I have worked closely with:  Prateek Sharma (IIsc), Mike Boylan-Kolchin (UT Austin), Brian Metzger (Columbia), Linda Strubbe (Science Teaching & Learning Fellow, UBC), Jackson DeBuhr (Univ. Indiana), Josh Shiode (Senior Govt Relations Officer at AAAS), Josh Burkart (Google), Jacob Lynn (Via Analytics), Mike McCourt (Hubble Fellow, KITP), Josiah Schwab (Hubble Fellow, UCSC), Daniel Lecoanet (Princeton)

A column by Josh Shiode relevant to my advising style.

UCB Postdocs I am currently collaborating with:  Davide Martizzi, Sasha Tchekhovskoy, Paul Duffel, Mike Belyaev, Francois Foucart, Jing Luan, Chris White, Kyle Parfrey, Philipp Moesta

Postdocs I have previously collaborated with:  Todd Thompson (OSU), Bryan Johnson (Livermore), Greg Howes (Iowa), Phil Chang (Univ. Wisconsin,
Milwaukee), Niccolo Bucciantini (Arcetri), Tony Piro (Carnegie), Prateek Sharma (IIsc),
Nevin Weinberg (MIT), Mario Riquelme (Univ. of Chile), Ian Parrish, Phil Hopkins (Caltech),
Claude-Andre Faucher-Giguere (Northwestern), Tobi Heinemann (NBIA), Ken Shen (UCB), Ryan O’Leary (JILA),
Jason Dexter (MPE), Dusan Keres (UCSD), Geoff Vasil (Sydney), Freeke van de Voort (Heidelberg), Rodrigo
Fernandez (Alberta), Robert Feldmann (Zurich), Ann-Marie Madigan (Boulder)


I am a theoretical astrophysicist with interests in a wide variety of problems, including black holes, stellar physics, plasma astrophysics, and galaxy formation.

I am the director of Berkeley’s Theoretical Astrophysics Center.

My publications can be found here (at arxiv.org) or here (at ADS).   A list of some of the papers of mine that I like the most.

Curriculum vitae     Short Academic Bio

My collaborations include the FIRE galaxy formation simulations, the horizon collaboration on black hole accretion, and the Dedalus project.

Although I greatly enjoy theoretical physics research, I have a confession ….


How Massive Stars Live and Die (KITP Blackboard Lunch Talk)
The Surprisingly Dynamic Last Years in the Lives of Massive Stars   The Physics of Cosmic Rays (a review)
Fueling Black Hole Growth in Galactic Nuclei       The Thermal Stability of Galaxy Cluster Plasmas
Short-Duration Gamma-ray Bursts                          New Forms of Convection in Galaxy Cluster Plasmas
The Heating and Acceleration of the Solar Wind  The FIR-Radio Correlation & Gamma-ray Emission from Star-Forming Galaxies
Gamma-ray Bursts from the Birth of Magnetars    Accretion in the Galactic Center

2011 Biermann Lectures (MPA):   The Physics of Galaxy Cluster Plasmas
Feedback During Galaxy Formation
Searching for the Electromagnetic Counterparts to Gravitational Wave Sources

Public Talks & Online Courses

Colliding Neutron Stars, Gravitational Waves, and the Origin of the Heavy Elements
Black Holes
The Modern Origins Story:  From the Big Bang to Habitable Planets   See the youtube video for a version of this talk.
Astronomy/IB C13:   From the Big Bang to the Emergence of Humans.   Lectures for this UC Berkeley non-science majors class.



Some of The Papers of Mine I Like the Most, in No Particular Order

1.  On the Maximum Luminosity of Galaxies and Their Central Black Holes: Feedback from Momentum-driven Winds

2.  Electromagnetic Counterparts of Compact Object Mergers Powered by the Radioactive Decay of R-process Nuclei    Confirmed!    See here, here, here

3.  Particle Heating by Alfvenic Turbulence in Hot Accretion Flows

4.  Nonlinear Tides in Close Binary Systems

5.  The Physics of Galactic Winds Driven by Active Galactic Nuclei

6.  Buoyancy Instabilities in Weakly Magnetized Low-Collisionality Plasmas

7.  The Magnetorotational Instability in a Collisionless Plasma

8.  Kinetic Simulations of Magnetized Turbulence in Astrophysical Plasmas

9.  Galaxies on FIRE (Feedback In Realistic Environments): Stellar Feedback Explains Cosmologically Inefficient Star Formation

10. The Long-term Evolution of Double White Dwarf Mergers

11. Wave-driven Mass Loss in the Last Year of Stellar Evolution: Setting the Stage for the Most Luminous Core-Collapse Supernovae

12.  Thermal Instability and the Feedback Regulation of Hot Haloes in Clusters, Groups and Galaxies and Thermal Instability in Gravitationally Stratified Plasmas: Implications for Multiphase Structure in Clusters and Galaxy Haloes