Webpage of Brian Metzger

    Brian Metzger


    Columbia University
    Department of Physics
    909 Pupin Hall
    New York, NY 10027, USA


I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at Columbia University.

My Ph.D. was completed in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy at UC Berkeley under the supervision of Professor Eliot Quataert.

Click here for my CV and publication list.


I am interested in a broad range of topics in theoretical astrophysics, focused on high energy and stellar astrophysics. A unifying theme of my research is a connection to transient (or 'time domain') phenomenon, motivated by many sensitive, wide-field telescopes coming online in the next decade across the electromagnetic spectrum. I am excited by the scientific potential of the upcoming generation of gravitational wave interferometers, such as Advanced LIGO, and the promise for a future era of "gravitational wave astronomy".



One area of my group's focus are theoretical predictions for the electromagnetic counterparts of binary neutron star mergers. Among the most promising counterparts is a day to week-long thermal optical/infrared counterpart, powered by the radioactive decay of heavy elements synthesized in the merger ejecta. In 2010, our group made the first predictions for this so-called "kilonova" emission, which included a realistic treatment of the relevant nuclear heating. To the left, I show an example predicted light curve (luminosity as a function of time since the merger) from 1% of a solar mass of r-process elements ejected from the merger at 10% the speed of light. The discovery of kilonova emission following a binary neutron star merger would provide the first direct evidence for the production of rare elements such as Gold, Platinum, and Uranium.

I recently completed a review on Kilonovae for Living Reviews in Relativity, which describes (among other things) the possible diverse signatures we may see from these events depending on the properties of the merging binary and the viewer's inclination angle with respect to the binary axis. Observers in the binary plane of the merger may observe mostly "red" (infared) emission from matter ejected in the binary plane, while observers from higher inclinations first observe relatively "blue" (optical) emission, similar to our 2010 predictions, from matter driven in the polar direction

My primary collaborators include:
Almudena Arcones (Darmstadt), Jon Arons (Berkeley), Andrei Beloborodov (Columbia), Edo Berger (Harvard), Josh Bloom (Berkeley), Niccolo Bucciantini (INAF), Laura Chomiuk (Michigan State), Rodrigo Fernandez (Alberta), Dimitrios Giannios (Purdue), Daniel Kasen (Berkeley), Gabriel Martinez-Pinedo (Darmstadt), Pere Mimica (Valencia), Ondrej Pejcha (Princeton), Daniel Perley (DARK), Tony Piro (Carnegie), Roman Rafikov (Cambridge), Jeno Sokoloski (Columbia), Nicholas Stone (Columbia), Todd Thompson (OSU), Wen-Fai Fong (Arizona),

Publications and Thesis

My list of publications can be found on astro-ph or the Astrophysics Data System (ADS).

My Ph.D. thesis, titled "Theoretical Models of Gamma-Ray Burst Central Engines," can be found here. My dissertation was awarded the Dissertation Prize by the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society. In 2014, I was named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow. In 2018, I was named a Finalist in the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.

Students and Postdocs

Graduate & Undergraduate: I am happy to talk with interested students at any time.

Previous Undergraduate Students: Justin Ripley (CU'14, now Princeton), Aaron Kennon (CU'17, now Santa Barbara), Charles Zivancev

Current Undergraduate Students: Miguel Martinez (with Nicholas Stone), Maggie Smith (with Jennifer Barnes)

Previous Graduate Students: Konstantin Bochkarev (Princeton), Siva Darbha (Berkeley), Andrey Vlasov, Aleksey Generozov (Boulder), Ben Margalit (Berkeley)

Current Graduate Students: Dhruv Desai, Andrea Derdzinski

Current Postdoctoral Researchers: Nicholas Stone (Einstein Fellow), Daniel Siegel (Einstein Fellow), Jennifer Barnes (Einstein Fellow), Elad Steinberg, Eric Coughlin (Einstien Fellow)

Review Articles

    To get a sense of my research, please check out these reviews:
  1. "Kilonovae, " Metzger, B.D., 2017, Living Reviews in Relativity, 20, 3
  2. "Electromagnetic Signatures of Neutron Star Mergers in the Advanced LIGO Era, " Fernandez, R, Metzger, B.D., 2016, Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science, Volume 66
  3. "Gamma-Ray Burst Central Engines: Black Hole Vs. Magnetar"Metzger, B.D., 2010, Invited Review; Frank N. Bash Symposium 2009: New Horizons in Astronomy (Austin, TX; October 2009)
  4. "Observational Signatures of the Accretion-Induced Collapse of White Dwarfs"Metzger, B.D., Piro, A.L., Quataert, E., Thompson, T.A., 2009, Proceedings of Neutron Stars & Gamma-Ray Bursts (Cairo/Alexandria, Egypt; April 2009)
  5. "Are Gamma-Ray Burst Outflows Neutron-Rich?" Metzger, B.D., Thompson, T.A., & Quataert, E. 2008, Proceedings of "Gamma-Ray Bursts 2007" in Santa Fe, NM
  6. "Proto-Neutron Star Winds, Magnetar Birth, and Gamma-Ray Bursts" Metzger, B.D., Quataert, E., & Thompson, T.A. 2007, American Institute of Physics Conference Series, 937, 521

Useful Links


I was born and raised in Burlington, Iowa, along the Mississippi river. If you are in the area, check out the Southeastern Iowa Astronomy Club and the Witte Observatory. While at Berkeley, I was captain of the Physics Department basketball team "Net Force". I enjoy following politics and have become interested in history, particularly of New York City.