James DerKacy

Graduate Student


B.A. 2015 North Central College

M.S. 2018 University of Oklahoma



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Office: 146 Nielsen Hall


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Research Area

Astrophysics and Cosmology

Research Description

My current work focuses on studying the spectral signatures of super-luminous supernovae. These supernovae arise from extremely massive stars and are too bright to be powered by radioactive decay alone. By using the radiative transfer simulation code PHOENIX, in combination with detailed hydrodyamic models of the supernova explosion, we can determine whether these supernovae are powered by interactions between the supernova ejecta and circumstellar material or other more exotic power sources, such as magnetars. My efforts to date on this project have involved modifying the PHOENIX code to handle the non-homologous and non-monotonic velocity flows necessary to appropriately simulate these events.

Additionally, I am part of a recently started observing campaign to study Type Ia and Type IIP supernovae as they begin their transition to the nebular phase. Not only will this project increase the number nebular phase supernovae spectra availible, but we will seek to answer important questions about whether the observed diversities of these subclasses of supernovae are due to differing progenitor classes or variations in their explosions.


"Ultraviolet Line Identifications and Spectral Formation Near Max Light in Type Ia Supernova 2011fe ," DerKacy, James M.; Baron, E.; Branch, David; Hoeflich, Peter; Hauschildt, Peter; Brown, Peter J.; Wang, Lifan, ApJ, 901, 86, (2020) ADS: https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2020ApJ...901...86D/abstract DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/abae67

In Research Group

Eddie Baron, George Lynn Cross Research Professor

Vera Maria Passegger, Post Doc