- CAS 517
- B.S., Ph.D., Cornell University
Associate Chair of Astronomy
Research Interests: Computational and theoretical space plasma physics; dymanics of the E-region ionosphere and the electrojet; particle-wave interactions in the auroral ionosphere and magnetosphere; physics of meteor trails
Institutional Webpage: http://echo.bu.edu/~meerso/
Professor Oppenheim studies space plasma physics using supercomputer simulations, theory, and data. Recently, he has been studying the physics of meteors. Every day, many tons of material hits the Earth’s atmosphere moving faster than 11km/s, mostly in the form of particles smaller than a grain of sand. While larger particles create visible meteors, the more common small ones appear only on radar screens. These particles tell us about the distribution of small particle both within and outside our solar system, Further, they add metals and dust to our upper atmosphere modifying atmospheric chemistry and create a threat to spacecraft. We are developing theories of meteor evolution from their ablation through their turbulent diffusion into the atmosphere and using these theories to study meteoroids and the atmosphere. Dr. Oppenheim also studies fields, waves, and turbulence in the ionosphere and auroral magnetosphere. Improving our understanding of these systems enables us to better characterize energy flows in the upper atmosphere.