Carnegie Mellon University

Axel Brandenburg

Adjunct Professor

Astrophysics & Cosmology
Off-campus at Nordita


Prof. Axel Brandenburg

Education & Professional Experience

Ph.D.: University of Helsinki (1990)
Ph.L.: University of Helsinki (1989)
Diploma: University of Hamburg, Physics (1986)


Curriculum Vitae

Adjunct Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, 2018–
Professor or Astrophysics, Stockholm Observatory, NORDITA, 2007–
Visiting Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2015–2018
Professor of Astrophysics, NORDITA, 2000–2006
Professor of Applied Mathematics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1996–2000
Nordic Assistant Professor, NORDITA, 1994–1996
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, High Altitude Observatory/NCAR, Boulder, 1992–1994
Docent of Astronomy, University of Helsinki, 1992
Visiting Fellowship, University of Cambridge, 1992
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, NORDITA, Copenhagen, 1990–1992

Research Interests

Axel Brandenburg is working in the field of astrophysical fluid dynamics and also has an interest in selected topics of astrobiology, particularly the question of homochirality at the origin of life. His main interests are concerned with magnetic field generation from turbulent motions with applications to the Sun and stars, accretion discs, galaxies, and the early Universe.

He produced the first compressible dynamo simulations in 1992. His work on accretion disc turbulence in 1995 was the first to show that the magneto-rotational and dynamo instabilities lead to a sustained doubly-positive feedback. The idea that large-scale primordial fields are the result of an inverse cascade goes back to his initial work of 1996. In 2005, he developed the concept of a distributed solar dynamo shaped by the near-surface shear layer. He contributed to the discovery of several new dynamo effects and found the production of magnetic spots as a generic result of stratification in hydromagnetic turbulence.

Since 2011, he has developed and applied new methods of determining magnetic helicity at the solar surface and in the solar wind. His work on the interpretation of stellar activity cycles revealed that all late-type stars younger than 2.3 billion years exhibit two cycle periods.

He is also responsible for the maintenance of the Pencil Code, a public domain code for solving partial differential equations on massively parallel machines.

Selected Publications

Brandenburg, A., & Giampapa, M. S., Enhanced stellar activity for slow antisolar differential rotation? Astrophys. J. Lett. 855, L22 (2018)

A. Brandenburg, T. Kahniashvili, Classes of hydrodynamic and magnetohydrodynamic turbulent decay, Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 055102 (2017)

A. Brandenburg, S. Mathur, T. S. Metcalfe, Evolution of coexisting long and short period stellar activity cycles, Astrophys. J. 845, 79 (2017)

A. Brandenburg, J. Schober, I. Rogachvski, T. Kahniashvili, et al., The Turbulent Chiral Magnetic Cascade in the Early Universe, Astrophys J. Lett., 845, L21 (2017)

A. Brandenburg, T. Kahniashvili, S. Mandal, A. Roper Pol, A. Tevzadze, T. Vachaspati, Evolution of Hydromagnetic Turbulence from Electroweak Phase Transitions, Phys. Rev. D 96, 123528 (2017)

A. Brandenburg, G. J. D. Petrie, N. K. Singh, Two-scale analysis of solar magnetic helicityAstrophys. J. 836, 21 (2017)

A. Brandenburg, Stellar mixing length theory with entropy rainAstrophys. J. 832, 6 (2016)

A. Brandenburg, T. Kahniashvili, A. G. Tevzadze, Nonhelical inverse transfer of a decaying turbulent magnetic fieldPhys. Rev. Lett. 114, 75001 (2015)

A. Brandenburg, Magnetic Prandtl number dependence of the kinetic-to-magnetic dissipation ratioAstrophys. J. 791, 12 (2014)

A. Brandenburg, R. Stepanov, Faraday signature of magnetic helicity from reduced depolarizationAstrophys. J. 786, 91 (2014)

More Publications: