Yangyang Cai wins TAP Graduate Student Research Prize

March 26, 2024

Dr. Cai earned his Ph.D. in physics in 2023 under the supervision of Prof. Sam Gralla. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the T.D. Lee Institute in Shanghai, China.

Hearty congratulations to recent physics Ph.D. Yangyang Cai for winning the 2024 Theoretical Astrophysics Program graduate student research prize!  Held every two years across multiple departments at UArizona, this competition selects the best theoretical astrophysics research paper produced by a graduate student during that time.  Dr. Cai was awarded the prize for his paper 

Dynamics of ultrarelativistic charged particles with strong radiation reaction. I. Aristotelian equilibrium state

In this work, Dr. Cai investigated charged particle motion in strong electromagnetic fields, where energy balance between Lorentz force and radiation reaction makes the particles move at nearly light speed in special directions determined by the electromagnetic field.  This is "Aristotelian" motion since the velocity, rather than acceleration, is determined by the field.  Dr. Cai derived the fundamental equations governing this approximation and confirmed that they match full numerical simulations in the appropriate regime.  This introduces a new tool for studying gamma-ray emission from high-energy particles in pulsar magnetospheres.  Congratulations, Dr. Cai!