For astrophysicist Carla Fröhlich, stars and supernovae are not just awe-inspiring sights to view through a telescope — they hold the key to making sense of the elements that make up our planet.
Fröhlich, an associate professor of physics, uses computer simulations to understand the nuclear reactions that happen in stars and supernovae. These celestial bodies produce the elements that make up everything from the iron in the earth’s core to the calcium in our bones. Figuring out the conditions and nuclear reactions in stars and supernovae helps her understand the origins of the chemical elements that make up the periodic table.
Fröhlich sees untangling the mysteries of the universe as an exciting challenge. “I love trying to understand something that nobody knows the answer to yet,” she says.
It also makes her appreciate the beauty of the stars even more — an appreciation that she loves to share with the community through stargazing outreach events and public talks. “Everybody’s inspired by looking up at the night sky,” she says. “I see astrophysics and astronomy really as a place where you can inspire wonder and interest in the world around you.”