About MESA

MESA was primarily developed through the concerted efforts of Bill Paxton over a 10 year period with the engagement and deep involvement of many theoretical and computational astrophysicists. MESA is currently developed and supported by a globally distributed team.

Over the past decade, MESA has grown into an international community resource. The public availability of MESA has, and will continue, to serve education, scientific research, and outreach. We therefore consider it important to re-express the guiding principles for using and contributing to MESA. Our goal is to assure the greatest usefulness for the largest number of research and educational projects.


Stellar evolution calculations (i.e., stellar evolution tracks and detailed information about the evolution of internal and global properties) are a basic tool that enable a broad range of research in astrophysics. Areas that critically depend on high-fidelity and modern stellar evolution include asteroseismology, nuclear astrophysics, stellar populations, chemical evolution and population synthesis, astrobiology, binary stars, variable stars, supernovae, novae, compact objects, tidal disruption events, stellar hydrodynamics, and stellar activity.

New observational capabilities are emerging in these fields that place a high demand on exploration of stellar dependencies on mass, metallicity and age. So, even though one dimensional stellar evolution is a mature discipline, we continue to ask new questions of stars. Some important aspects of stars are truly three-dimensional, such as convection, rotation, and magnetism. These aspects remain in the realm of research frontiers with evolving understanding and insights, quite often profound. However, much remains to be gained scientifically (and pedagogically) by accurate one-dimensional calculations, and this is the focus of MESA.


The MESA operating principles are simple: be open in your scientific discussions, give credit to all contributors, and be prepared to give back to the community of users. We hope that this creates an environment where the young are encouraged to become engaged in a career-enhancing manner.

MESA is open-source and open-knowledge. It explicitly invites participation from anybody (researchers, students, interested amateurs). Participation in MESA can take a wide range of forms, from using a MESA release for a science project, through testing and debugging, to taking on responsibility for the continued stewardship. The participation of experienced stellar evolution experts is welcomed.

Use of MESA requires:

  1. That all publications and presentations (research, educational, or outreach) deriving from the use of MESA acknowledge the MESA instrument papers (Paxton et al. 2011, 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019).
  2. That users share in a timely fashion all information needed for others to recreate their MESA results (e.g., on MESA Zenodo).
  3. That user modifications, additions, and tools are shared with the community.
  4. That users agree to help others learn MESA, giving back as the project progresses.

The MESA Team

The missions of the MESA Team are:

  • Stewardship: supporting contributors, maintaining the access and updates, seeking enabling funding, supporting MESA Summer Schools that allow for continued engagement, documenting MESA development in the refereed literature, and sustaining advanced development.
  • Interface with the User Community: answering questions from users, developing or accepting new code in an integrated fashion, supporting MESA workshops and events, maintaining a user registry, and identifying new MESA Team members from those most active and engaged in the intelligent use of MESA.
  • Enable Scientific Research and Education: promoting MESA and its goals, e.g., through scientific contributions at relevant conferences, identifying science opportunities that match MESA capabilities, facilitating and encouraging appropriate scientific collaborative

1st Author

Past Developers


MESA development was supported by the National Science Foundation under the Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation program grants (ACI-1339581, ACI-1339600, ACI-1339606) and (ACI-1663684, ACI- 1663688, ACI-1663696). We thank the participants of the MESA Summer Schools for their willingness to experiment with new capabilities.