MIT Kavli Institute Directory

Glenn E. Allen

Research Scientist
MIT Kavli Institute

Dr. Allen received a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in 1989 and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Maryland - College Park in 1996. His graduate work involved using a ground-based extensive air-shower array in Los Alamos, NM to search for astrophysical sites at which cosmic-ray protons are accelerated to PeV energies. As a National Research Council postdoctoral research fellow, Dr. Allen worked at NASA/GSFC using the RXTE satellite to study the acceleration of electrons to energies of about 10-100 TeV in supernova remnants. Since 1999, Dr. Allen has been employed at the Chandra X-ray Center and uses the Chandra telescope to explore the properties of X-ray synchrotron emission from young, Galactic, supernova remnants.

Research interests: 

Dr. Allen studies where and how Galactic cosmic rays are accelerated. This research has focused primarily on supernova remnants, the most conspicuous suspects. While the Holy Grail of cosmic-ray research is the study of very-high-energy cosmic-ray protons, unfortunately, direct observation of the photons produced by these particles at the sites where they are accelerated is challenging. For this reason, Dr. Allen studies the more copious production of X-ray synchrotron emission by very-high-energy electrons. This work has helped indict young supernova remnants, has indicated that remnants accelerate cosmic rays about as fast as theoretically possible, has indicated that cosmic rays influence the structure of the shocks that accelerate them, and has revealed that the cosmic-ray electron spectrum and/or the magnetic field strength varies considerably from one region to another in a remnant.

Representative publications: 

(1) Allen, G. E., Houck, J. C., and Sturner, S. J. 2008, "Evidence of a Curved Synchrotron Spectrum in the Supernova Remnant SN 1006" ApJ, 683, 773
(2) Stage, M. D., Allen, G. E., Houck, J. C., and Davis, J. E. 2006, "Cosmic-Ray Diffusion Near the Bohm Limit in the Cassiopeia A Supernova Remnant" Nature Phys, 2, 614

Honors and awards: 

(1) Served as an elected School Committee member in the town of Sharon from May 2006 to May 2012
(2) National Research Council postdoctoral research associate fellowship June 1996 to June 1998
(3) Society of Physics Students president, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Fall 1987 to Spring 1988

Contact Information

t: 617-253-3875


Ph.D., Physics, University of Maryland, College Park, 1996