Kris Davidson

Man wearing tie standing in front of bulletin board

Kris Davidson

Professor Emeritus, School of Physics and Astronomy


John T. Tate Hall
Room 285-07
116 Church Street Se
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics (MIfA)


Ph.D., Cornell University, 1970

B.S., California Institute of Technology, 1965

Professional Background

  • Director of Graduate Studies for Astronomy, University of Minnesota, 2006-2019.
  • 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.
Research Interests

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 unknown.

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.

Selected Publications

  1. Remmen, Davidson, & Mehner, Unexpected Ionization Structure in Eta Carinae's Weigelt KnotsAstrophys.J. will appear August 2013
  2. Humphreys, Davidson, et al., Luminous and Variable Stars in M31 and M33...Astrophys.J., in press
  3. Roming et al., The Unusual Evolution of Supernova 2011ht.Astrophys.J. 751:92
  4. Ed. Davidson & Humphreys, Eta Carinae and the Supernova ImpostorsAstrophys. & Space Sci. Library 184. Springer, 2012
  5. Humphreys, Davidson, et al., The Unusual... Evolution of... SN2011ht: Peculiar Supernova, or Impostor?Astrophys.J. 760:93
  6. Davidson & Humphreys, The Great Eruption of Eta CarinaeNature 486, E1.
  7. Mehner, Davidson, et al., Secular Changes in Eta Carinae's Wind 1998-2011Astrophys.J. 751:73
  8. Humphreys et al., Photometric and Spectral Evolution of the 2008 Luminous Optical Transient in NGC 300Astrophys.J. 743:118
  9. Mehner, Davidson, et al., Critical Differences and Clues in Eta Cars 2009 EventAstrophys.J. 740:80
  10. Mehner, Davidson, and Ferland, NII 5668-5712, a New Class of Spectral Features in Eta CarinaeAstrophys.J. 737:70
  11. Artigau et al. Astron.J, Penetrating the Homunculus: Near Infrared Adaptive Optics Images of Eta Carinae141:202
  12. Humphreys et al., Mapping the Asymmetric Thick Disk III. Kinematics and Interaction with the Galactic BarAstron.J. 141:131
  13. Mehner, Davidson, et al., A Sea Change in Eta CarinaeAp.J. Letters 717, L22-L25
  14. Tiffany et al., The Morphology of IRC+10420's Circumstellar EjectaAstron.J. 140, 339-349
  15. Martin, Davidson, Humphreys, & Mehner, Mid-cycle changes in Eta CarinaeAstron.J. 139, 2056-2065
  16. Mehner, Davidson, Ferland, & Humphreys, Astrophys, High-excitation Emission Lines Near Eta Carinae, and Its Likely Companion StarJ. 710, 729-742