University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy
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Kris Davidson

Emeritus Faculty (Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics)

TATEH 285-07 (office), 624-5711
kd @


Expertise: Extremely massive stars, nebular processes, data analysis
techniques, special problems. Has usually concentrated on a small number of special objects that give astrophysical information unobtainable anywhere else: Eta Carinae, Crab Nebula, etc.

Director of Graduate Studies for Astronomy, U of MN, 2006-present.
UMN Senate: 2005--present.
UMN I.T.: Committee to evaluate re-appointment of the Head of the School of Physics & Astronomy, 2005-06.
UMN I.T.: Library committee, 2005—present.

About My Work

Highly ionized diffuse matter, particularly that associated with quasars, supernova remnants and X-ray sources - considered in "non-classical" nebular manner. Other aspects of X-ray sources and also very massive stars.

The nature of "Supernova Impostors": explosions that release as much
radiation as a supernova, but leave the star almost intact. The most
accessible example is Eta Carinae. SN impostors are far more mysterious
than real supernovae, because their basic instabilities are largely

Selected Publications

Remmen, Davidson, & Mehner, Unexpected Ionization Structure in Eta Carinae's Weigelt Knots, Astrophys.J. will appear August 2013 (11pp)

Humphreys, Davidson, et. al., Luminous and Variable Stars in M31 and M33..., Astrophys.J., in press

Roming et al., The Unusual Evolution of Supernova 2011ht., Astrophys.J. 751:92 (16pp)

Ed. Davidson & Humphreys, Eta Carinae and the Supernova Impostors, Astrophys. & Space Sci. Library 184. Springer, 2012

Humphreys, Davidson, et. al., The Unusual... Evolution of... SN2011ht: Peculiar Supernova, or Impostor?, Astrophys.J. 760:93 (14pp)

Davidson & Humphreys, The Great Eruption of Eta Carinae, Nature 486, E1.

Mehner, Davidson, et al., Secular Changes in Eta Carinae's Wind 1998-2011, Astrophys.J. 751:73 (22pp)

Humphreys et al., Photometric and Spectral Evolution of the 2008 Luminous Optical Transient in NGC 300, Astrophys.J. 743:118 (18pp)

Mehner, Davidson, et al., Critical Differences and Clues in Eta Cars 2009 Event, Astrophys.J. 740:80 (19pp)

Mehner, Davidson, and Ferland, NII 5668-5712, a New Class of Spectral Features in Eta Carinae, Astrophys.J. 737:70 (6pp)

Artigau et al. Astron.J, Penetrating the Homunculus: Near Infrared Adaptive Optics Images of Eta Carinae, 141:202 (13pp)

Humphreys et al., Mapping the Asymmetric Thick Disk III. Kinematics and Interaction with the Galactic Bar, Astron.J. 141:131 (15pp)

Mehner, Davidson, et al., A Sea Change in Eta Carinae, Ap.J. Letters 717, L22-L25

Tiffany et al., The Morphology of IRC+10420's Circumstellar Ejecta, Astron.J. 140, 339-349

Martin, Davidson, Humphreys, & Mehner, Mid-cycle changes in Eta Carinae, Astron.J. 139, 2056-2065

Mehner, Davidson, Ferland, & Humphreys, Astrophys, High-excitation Emission Lines Near Eta Carinae, and Its Likely Companion Star, J. 710, 729-742


B.S., Physics, California Institute of Technology, 1965.
Ph.D., Astrophysics, Cornell University, 1970.