Thomas Osburn

Assistant Professor of Physics


BS| Georgia Institute of Technology| 2010

MS| University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill| 2013

Ph.D.| University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill| 2016

Courses Taught

Physics 141

Physics 142

Physics 151

Physics 152


Inspirals into a charged black hole
Ruomin Zhu and Thomas Osburn
Physical Review D 97, 104058 (2018)
Evolution of small-mass-ratio binaries with a spinning secondary
Niels Warburton, Thomas Osburn, and Charles Evans
Physical Review D 96, 084057 (2017),
Highly eccentric inspirals into a black hole
Thomas Osburn, Niels Warburton, and Charles Evans
Physical Review D 93, 064024 (2016),
Fast spectral source integration in black hole perturbation calculations
Seth Hopper, Erik Forseth, Thomas Osburn, and Charles Evans
Physical Review D 92, 044048 (2015),
Lorenz gauge gravitational self-force calculations of eccentric binaries using a frequency domain  procedure
Thomas Osburn, Erik Forseth, Charles Evans, and Seth Hopper
Physical Review D 90, 104031 (2014),

Research Interests

My research is in the field of gravitational astrophysics. Specifically, I model the gravitational waves emitted by compact binary systems using general relativity. Compact binary systems consist of two black holes, one black hole and one neutron star, or two neutron stars orbiting one another. The initial LIGO detections of gravitational waves generated by compact binaries were monumental confirmations of general relativity that merited the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. My work considers the extreme mass-ratio case where one of the binary components is a supermassive black hole (~1 million times more massive than the Sun) and the other binary component is a stellar mass black hole or neutron star. These extreme mass-ratio binaries are vital sources of gravitational waves for the upcoming LISA space mission. I use the mass-ratio (small mass/large mass) of the system as a small parameter to expand the gravitational field equations perturbatively. Radiation-reaction causes the smaller body to inspiral towards the larger black hole until merger. The primary goal of my research program is to collaborate with students to develop accurate extreme mass-ratio inspiral models with unprecedented astrophysical realism required for LISA data analysis.