Spotlight on new faculty: Jaquelyn Noronha-Hostler, Nuclear Physics

Jessica Raley for Illinois Physics

The Department of Physics at Illinois welcomes an extraordinary set of ten new faculty members this year. Eight of them have arrived on campus and have begun setting up their labs and settling into life in Champaign-Urbana. Two more faculty are set to arrive in January. We will feature each of them here over the next couple of weeks. Check back regularly to learn more about the exciting work these new faculty members are doing.

Professor Jaki Noronha-Hostler (center) works with postdoc Matthew Sievert (right) and graduate students Patrick Carzon (far left) and Travis Dore.
Professor Jaki Noronha-Hostler (center) works with postdoc Matthew Sievert (right) and graduate students Patrick Carzon (far left) and Travis Dore.

Professor Jaki Noronha-Hostler

Jaki Noronha-Hostler is a nuclear physicist. In her research, she does simulations of the most perfect fluid we know of–quark-gluon plasma–moving at the speed of light, and then compares the simulations directly to experimental data. This type of matter is believed to have existed 10-6 seconds after the big bang, so to study it, nuclear experimentalists create billions of “little bangs” in the laboratory. The goal of her current research is to find the location a critical point at which separates the cross-over phase transition (between a quark gluon plasma and hadrons) from a first order phase transition. This research has implications for several areas of physics, including neutron stars, which may contain a quark-gluon plasma at their core. Jaki says, “If we see a critical point, then there is a first order phase transition that could affect the dynamics of neutron star mergers.” Her work also pushes the boundaries of statistics, because new statistical tools have to be developed to analyze the data from the large number of simulations required for this research.

For more information about Jaki's work, or to inquire about joining her research group, visit her website.

Recent News

  • In the Media

The smaller black hole would serve as a precise probe of the spacetime around the bigger black hole, revealing whether it warps and twists exactly as the Kerr metric dictates. An affirmative result would cement the case that black holes are what general relativity predicts, Yunes says. “But you have to wait for LISA.”

"We see surge after surge of the coronavirus disease plague the world. People driven out of homes, hungry, fearful, unable to bid their passing ones adieu. Science and much else is denied. Rampant hatred and prejudice tears us asunder. And we are left asking what there is to hope for, what will remain that we hold precious, sacred.

Yet, the nourishing oceanic waters of our planet continue their ebb and flow. We connect like never before in virtual space. Elephants and peacocks roam through newly emptied land and cleaner air. Strangers leaving care packages on doorsteps and other random acts of kindness abound. Grandparents feel the warmth of toddler palms kissing theirs across windowpanes."

  • research

Since it formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago, the Moon has been Earth’s nearest neighbor and constant companion. Though it is the most familiar object in the night sky, the Moon’s origin remains in many ways mysterious. Researchers at the Illinois Center for Advanced Studies of the Universe (ICASU) are the first to examine the role of magnetic fields in the formation of Earth’s Moon, offering new insights into how and when the Moon may have formed.