Richard V.E. Lovelace

Professor Emeritus


During graduate work at Arecibo, Richard Lovelace discovered the period and location of the Crab Nebula pulsar. After appointments as research associate at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the Laboratory of Plasma Studies at Cornell, he came to Cornell as assistant professor in the Department of Applied Physics in 1972. From 1973 to 1974, he was a visiting scientist at the Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory. In 1975, he invented the Dynamo Model for the magnetic origin of astrophysical jets on July 10, 1975 in Urbino, Italy (Invention of Dynamo Model; transparencies of Urbino talk).

In 1984, Lovelace was appointed Professor at Cornell. In 1990, he was elected a Guggenheim Fellow and named a Visiting Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1994, he was elected an Overseas Fellow at Churchill College and named Visiting Scientist at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge England. From 1997 to 2000 he was Divisional Associate Editor for Physical Review Letters for Plasma Physics. In 1999 he was Orsan Anderson Visiting Scholar at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In 2002 he became a Fellow of American Physical Society. He has been Associate Editor Physics of Plasmas since 2003.

His research interests include basic plasma physics, the theory of fluid and plasma flows, and the theory of astrophysical jets and accretion disks.

Over the past several years, Lovelace's theoretical and computer simulation research has been directed to different problems involving astrophysical flows and plasmas. Most of this work has been done in the framework of the US-Russia collaboration on plasma astrophysics. The flows are observed in the accretion disks and associated jets and winds of rotating neutron stars and black holes in binary systems, around massive black holes in the nuclei of active galaxies and quasars, and around newly forming stars. There is a wealth of new observational data, including radio, infra red, optical, X-ray, and gamma ray measurements, on accretion disks and collimated, high-velocity jets. Magnetic fields have a crucial role in driving the outflows and in determining the evolution of the disks and the central stars. On a large scale, active galactic nuclei are observed to be the sources of powerful, collimated, relativistic jets.

Recent results of this research on plasma phenomena in accretion flows include: (1) three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations of funnel flows in disk accretion to a rotating star with a misaligned dipole magnetic fields; (2) axisymmetric MHD simulations of Bondi accretion to a rotating star with an aligned dipole magnetic fields in the propeller regime; (3) axisymmetric simulations of the MHD origin of nonrelativistic jets from Keplerian accretion disks; (4) theory of the formation of relativistic Poynting jets from accretion disks around a Kerr black holes; (5) theory of relativistic acceleration of leptons in collisionless magnetic reconnection; and (6) theory of the coherent synchrotron radiation instability of rotating relativistic electron layers.

Research Focus

  • US-Russia Collaboration on Plasma Astrophysics,
  • Disk & Wind Accretion to Magnetized Stars,
  • Dynamics of Protoplanetary Disks Around Magnetized Stars,
  • Magnetohydrodynamics and Plasma Phenomena in Protostellar Systems, 
  • US-Kazakhstan Astrophysics Collaboration,
  • Matter Outflow from Active Galactic Nuclei: Theory & Model Calculations of Hydrodynamics,
  • Radiation Transfer & Absorption Spectra in Ultraviolet...


  • Theory and Analysis of Interplanetary Scintillations, R.V.E. Lovelace, 1970 
  • United States Patent 6,639,403 Temnykh, et al. October 28, 2003 System and method for sensing magnetic fields based on movement.
  • One-sided outflows/jets from rotating stars with complex magnetic fields. R.V.E. Lovelace, M.M. Romanova, G.V. Ustyugova et al. November 11, 2010. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Vol 408:4. pp 2083-91.
  • Possible signatures of magnetospheric accretion onto young giant planets. R.V.E. Lovelace, K.R. Covey, J.P. Lloyd. February 2011. Astronomical Journal. Vol 141; 2.
  • Measurement of the Electric Current in a kpc-Scale Jet, P.P. Kronberg, R.V.E. Lovelace, G. Lapenta, et al. November 1, 2011. Astophysical Journal Letters. Vol 741:1.
  • MRI-driven accretion due to magnetized stars: global 3D MHD simulations of magnetospheric and boundary layer regimes. M.M. Romanova, G.V. Ustyogova, G.V. Koldoba, R.V.E. Lovelace et al. March 2012. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astonomical Society. Vol 421:1. pp. 63-77.
  • Magnetic launching and collimation of jets from the disc magnetoscopesphere boundary: 2.5D MHD simulations. P. Lii, M. Romanova, R.V.E. Lovelace.  March 2012. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Vol 420:3. pp 2020-33.
  • Vertical structure of stationary accretion disks with a large-scale magnetic field. G.S. Bisnovatyi-Kogan, R.V.E. Lovelace. May 10, 2012. Astrophysical Journal. Vol 750:2.