Ken Shen

Ken SHen

Ken Shen

Research Specialist


UC Berkeley Department of Astronomy
213 Campbell Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-3411

Email address

Specialty areas

White Dwarf Physics in Binary Systems.


I’m an assistant staff researcher in the UC Berkeley astronomy department where I study the astrophysics of white dwarfs in interacting binary systems, with a focus on thermonuclear phenomena.  I received my PhD in September 2010 in the Department of Physics at UC Santa Barbara where I worked with Lars Bildsten at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, and from 2011-2014, I was a postdoctoral Einstein fellow at UC Berkeley and LBNL.


First- and second-authored publications:

“Sub-Chandrasekhar-Mass White Dwarf Detonations Revisited”

Shen, K. J., Kasen, D., Miles, B. J., and Townsley, D. M. 2018, ApJ, 854, 52

Shen, K. J., & Bildsten, L. 2014, ApJ, 785, 61

Shen, K. J., Guillochon, J., & Foley, R. J. 2013, ApJ, 770, L35

Schwab, J., Shen, K. J., et al. 2012, MNRAS, 427, 190

“The Long-Term Evolution of Double White Dwarf Mergers”
Shen, K. J., Bildsten, L., Kasen, D., & Quataert, E. 2012, ApJ, 748, 35
“Thermonuclear .Ia Supernovae from Helium Shell Detonations: Explosion Models and Observables”
Shen, K. J., Kasen, D., Weinberg, N. N., Bildsten, L., & Scannapieco, E. 2010, ApJ, 715, 767“Helium White Dwarfs in Cataclysmic Variables”
Shen, K. J., Idan, I., & Bildsten, L. 2009, ApJ, 705, 693 

“Unstable Helium Shell Burning on Accreting White Dwarfs”
Shen, K. J., & Bildsten, L. 2009, ApJ, 699, 1365

“The Effect of Composition on Nova Ignitions”
Shen, K. J., & Bildsten, L. 2009, ApJ, 692, 324

“Faint Thermonuclear Supernovae from AM Canum Venaticorum Binaries”
Bildsten, L., Shen, K. J., Weinberg, N. N., & Nelemans, G. 2007, ApJ, 662, L95

“Thermally Stable Nuclear Burning on Accreting White Dwarfs”
Shen, K. J., & Bildsten, L. 2007, ApJ, 660, 1444

Other publications:

“Discovery of a Cosmological, Relativistic Outburst via its Rapidly Fading Optical Emission”
Cenko, S. B., et al. 2013, ApJ, 769, 130

Ganeshalingam, M., et al. 2012, ApJ, 751, 142

“A Compact Degenerate Primary-Star Progenitor of SN 2011fe”
Bloom, J. S., Kasen, D., Shen, K. J., et al. 2012, ApJ, 744, L17

“Exclusion of a Luminous Red Giant as a Companion Star to the Progenitor of Supernova SN 2011fe”
Li, W., et al. 2011, Nature, 480, 348

“Supernova PTF 09uj: A Possible Shock Breakout from a Dense Circumstellar Wind”
Ofek, E. O., et al. 2010, ApJ, 724, 1396

“Rapidly Decaying Supernova 2010X: A Candidate ‘.Ia’ Explosion”
Kasliwal, M. M., et al. 2010, ApJ, 723, L98

“A Faint Type of Supernova from a White Dwarf with a Helium-Rich Companion”
Perets, H. B., et al. 2010, Nature, 465, 322

Popular science press:

2017: “That ‘alien megastructure’ star might actually be a planet-eater”

2017: “This may be the best explanation yet for that mysterious ‘alien megastructure’ “

2017: ” ‘Alien megastructure’ signal may be due to star eating a planet”

2012: “Earliest-yet observation of August supernova nails it: Destroyed star was white dwarf”

2011: “Hubble images help pin down identity of August supernova’s companion star”

2009: “New type of supernova explosion reported; predicted by theoretical physicists at UCSB”