The process by which planetary systems form remains shrouded in mystery, partially due to the poorly constrained conditions within the disks of gas and dust from which they emerge. In my recent work I developed a model for the turbulent structure of the inner regions of protoplanetary disks by coupling the disk to the host star's magnetized outflow. This leads to a novel evolution and density structure which helps retain massive planets which would otherwise spiral in towards the host star. I'm currently supervising Grace Wang who is working on a code to simulate the fragmentation of particles as they are accreted by protoplanets.

My earlier work focused on magnetically accelerated outflows launched by newly formed neutron stars or black holes within collapsing massive stars. This is thought to be the mechanism that powers gamma ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the universe. I studied the interaction of the highly magnetized plasma and an intense radiation source and found a possible explanation for mysterious features that appear in the observed spectra of some bursts.

Credit: L. Calçada

Credit: NASA/Swift/Cruz deWilde


Russo, M., Thompson, C., Constrained Evolution of a Radially Magnetized Protoplanetary Disk: Implications for

     Planetary Migration, The Astrophysical Journal, 815:38, 2015

Russo, M., Thompson, C., Radially Magnetized Protoplanetary Disk: Vertical Profile,

     The Astrophysical Journal, 813:81, 2015

Russo, M., Thompson, C., Hot Electromagnetic Outflows. II: Jet Breakout,

     The Astrophysical Journal, 773:99, 2013

Russo, M., Thompson, C., Hot Electromagnetic Outflows. I: Acceleration and Spectra,

     The Astrophysical Journal, 767:142, 2013

Boyle, L., Russo, M., Light Loop Echoes and Blinking Black Holes, arXiv:1110.2789