Carnegie Mellon University

Carl Rodriguez

Assistant Professor

Astrophysics & Cosmology
Wean Hall 8313


Prof. Carl Rodriguez

Education & Professional Experience

Ph.D.: Northwestern University (2016)
B.A.: Reed College, Physics (2010)

Honors and Awards:
Kaufman New Investigator Award, 2020

Curriculum ViTAE

Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, 2020–
ITC Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University, 2019–2020
Pappalardo Postdoctoral Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2016–2019

Research Interests

One of the last predictions of Einstein's theory of general relativity was the existence of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that distorted the distances between nearby objects. Nearly 100 years after their prediction, scientists detected the first gravitational waves from merging binary black holes in 2015, ushering in an entirely new era of astronomy. Since that first detection, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Detector (LIGO) has detected tens of merging black holes and neutron stars, with hundreds more detections expected over the next few years.

Our group is interested in the astrophysical origin of these new gravitational-wave sources. Using a combination of high-performance computing simulations, semi-analytic statistics, and analytic theory, we explore how binary black holes and binary neutron stars can form and merge within the age of the universe. We want to answer questions like: does the rate of gravitational-wave mergers change in different parts of the universe? Do the masses and spins of LIGO's binary black holes suggest one origin, or many? Are all of LIGO's binaries on circular orbits? Can gravitational waves tell us about the lives of the galaxies they come from, and about the expansion of the universe itself?

There are many proposed astrophysical pathways to merge two compact objects. We focus in particular on the ways in which stellar dynamics, the movement of objects due to their mutual gravity, can form binaries with unique observational properties (including the large masses of the black holes observed by LIGO, Rodriguez et al., 2015). These simulations of massive star clusters use high-performance parallel computing techniques to solve the gravitational N-body problem. Broadly, our group is interested in the formation, evolution, and destruction of these star clusters in their host galaxies across cosmic time. These include not only open and globular star clusters, but also the nuclear star clusters in the centers of galaxies, the homes of the largest supermassive black holes.

Selected Publications

Halston Lim and Carl L. Rodriguez, Relativistic three-body effects in hierarchical triples, arXiv:2001.03654 (2020)

Claire S. Ye et al., On the Rate of Neutron Star Binary Mergers from Globular Clusters, Astrophys. J. Lett. 888, L10 (2020)

Katelyn Breivik et al., COSMIC Variance in Binary Population Synthesis, arXiv:1911.00903 (2019)

Carl L. Rodriguez et al., Black holes: The next generation—repeated mergers in dense star clusters and their gravitational-wave properties, Phys. Rev. D 100, 043027 (2019)

Claire S. Ye et al., Millisecond Pulsars and Black Holes in Globular Clusters, Astrophys. J. 877, 122 (2019)

Carl L. Rodriguez et al., A new hybrid technique for modeling dense star clusters, Comput. Astrophys. 5, 5 (2018)

Carl L. Rodriguez and Abraham Loeb, Redshift Evolution of the Black Hole Merger Rate from Globular Clusters, Astrophys. J. Lett. 866, L5 (2018)

Carl L. Rodriguez and Fabio Antonini, A Triple Origin for the Heavy and Low-spin Binary Black Holes Detected by LIGO/VIRGO, Astrophys. J. 863, 7 (2018)

Carl L. Rodriguez et al., Post-Newtonian Dynamics in Dense Star Clusters: Highly Eccentric, Highly Spinning, and Repeated Binary Black Hole Mergers, Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 151101 (2018)

Carl L. Rodriguez et al., Binary black hole mergers from globular clusters: Masses, merger rates, and the impact of stellar evolution, Phys. Rev. D 93, 084029 (2016)

Carl L. Rodriguez et al., Binary Black Hole Mergers from Globular Clusters: Implications for Advanced LIGO, Phys. Rev. Lett. 115, 051101 (2015)

More Publications: