Department of Astronomy Center for Radiophysics & Space Research

Dong Lai

Professor of Astronomy
Dong Lai
Specialty Areas

Theoretical Astrophysics

Research Projects

Astrophysics of compact objects (neutron stars, black holes and whitedwarfs), exoplanets, astrophysical fluid dynamics.


After undergraduate study at the University of Science and Technologyof China, Dong Lai came to the US for graduate study, receivingPh.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell in 1994. He joined theAstronomy faculty in the Fall of 1997 after three years as apostdoctoral fellow at Caltech.  He has held visiting positions atthe Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Institute for Advanced Study,Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, National AstronomicalObservatory of China, etc.  His research lies in theoreticalastrophysics. Current research interests include:

1. Compact Objects: Neutron stars (pulsars and magnetars), black holeaccretion disks, white dwarfs (binary WDs), supernovae, gravitationalwaves.

2. Astrophysics of Exoplanets: Hot Jupiters, protoplanetary disks, etc.

3. Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics (hydrodynamics and MHD) in general:   disks, waves, instabilities, tides, etc.

Selected Publications

  • D. Lai and D. Tsang 2009,``Corotational Instability of Inertial-Acoustic Modes in Black Hole Accretion Discs and Quasi-Periodic Oscillations'',MNRAS, 393, 979
  • Z. Medin and D. Lai 2010,``Pair cascades in the magnetospheres of strongly-magnetized neutron stars'',MNRAS, 406, 1379
  • D. Lai, Ch. Helling and E. van den Huevel 2010, ``Mass Transfer, Transiting Stream and Magnetopause in Close-in Exoplanetary Systems with Applications to WASP-12'',ApJ, 721, 923
  • J. Fuller and D. Lai 2011,``Tidal Excitation of Oscillation Modes in Compact White Dwarf Binaries: I. Linear Theory'', MNRAS, 412, 1331
  • D. Lai, F. Foucart and D.N.C. Lin 2011,``Evolution of Spin Direction of Accreting Magnetic Protostars and Spin-Orbit Misalignment in Exoplanetary Systems'', MNRAS, 412, 2790
  • Natalia Shabaltas and Dong Lai 2012, "The Hidden Magnetic Field of The Young Neutron Star in Kesteven 79'', ApJ, 748, 148
  • Wen Fu and Dong Lai 2012, ``Dynamics of the Innermost Accretion Flows Around Compact Objects: Magnetosphere-Disc Interface, Global Oscillations and Instabilities'', MNRAS, in press (arXiv:1201.5370)
  • H. Meheut, C. Yu, D. Lai 2012, ``Rossby Wave Instability in 3D Disks'', MNRAS, 422, 2399-2406
  • D. Lai 2012, "Tidal dissipation in planet-hosting stars: damping of spin-orbit misalignment and survival of hot Jupiters", MNRAS, in press (arXiv:1109.4703)