Prof. Kunz uses analytical and numerical tools to investigate magnetic fields and multi-scale plasma dynamics in a wide variety of astrophysical and space systems, including star-forming molecular clouds, protostellar cores, the intracluster medium (ICM) of galaxy clusters, black-hole accretion flows, protoplanetary disks, and the solar wind. His research addresses the interplay between microscale plasma physics, mesoscale fluid dynamics, and macroscale evolution. In doing so, it aims to provide a greater understanding of: how angular momentum is transported in differentially rotating astrophysical accretion disks; how kinetic turbulence in collisionless plasma is cascaded to small scales in phase space; how the solar wind is launched from the solar corona and accelerated through interplanetary space; how efficiently protostars inherit magnetic fields from their natal molecular clouds, and whether this process influences their initial mass distribution; and how turbulence is dissipated and heat is transported in the ICM, and what this implies for convective and thermal stability. The common theme of this research is instability and turbulence in non-ideal systems, i.e. those that are either so hot and diffuse that they are fully ionized and weakly collisional, or so cold and dense that they are poorly ionized and strongly collisional.
Associate Professor of Astrophysical Sciences