Kippenhahn Award goes to Pavan Vynatheya

July 27, 2022

During this year’s summer barbeque, MPA student Pavan Vynatheya was distinguished with the Kippenhahn Award for his paper on “How Important is Secular Evolution for Black Hole and Neutron Star Mergers in 2+2 and 3+1 Quadruple-star Systems?”

Already during his first PhD year, Pavan wrote a paper together with his supervisor, in which he studied the formation of black hole and neutron star mergers in quadruple-star systems. Triple and quadruple-star systems are potentially important as progenitors of black hole and neutron star mergers and hence of stellar-mass gravitational wave sources. Pavan’s paper is highly innovative by taking into account a multitude of physical processes that have not been combined in their entirety before, including accurate gravitational dynamics, stellar evolution, and binary interactions.

Pavan carried out a very comprehensive set of population synthesis simulations on MPA’s new ADA cluster and performed a careful statistical analysis of the data to make predictions for LIGO/Virgo gravitational wave sources. He also investigated individual systems to understand the complex evolution of quadruple systems. Over 95% of the paper were written by Pavan himself and he has presented his paper at several international conferences, where his talks were well received. In just a few months, the paper has already received 5 citations, and represents the state-of-the-art in statistical predictions of gravitational wave sources from quadruple-star systems.

The MPA established the award together with Rudolph Kippenhahn in 2008 for the best student publication of the previous year. Students can submit their publication to which they themselves made substantial contributions. A committee then appraises the contributions in terms of originality, a large impact on science and the quality of writing. Former MPA director Rudolph Kippenhahn sponsored half the prize money of 2000 Euros until he passed away in 2020; the award is now sponsored fully by former MPA director Simon White.

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