Modules for Experiments
in Stellar Astrophysics

Latest News

General Questions

How do you say MESA?

Say "MAY-sa".

Can I use the MESA logo in a talk or presentation?

Yes. It is available in a variety of sizes for your convenience.

What happens when an instrument paper is being written?

The picture shows the intense authors hard at work making final edits.

writing the mesa paper

A late night session working on the paper around Bill's dining room table with a projector, a makeshift screen, and ample red wine (left to right, Frank Timmes, Aaron Dotter, Falk Herwig, Lars Bildsten, and Bill Paxton). Photo taken by Bill's patient wife, Kathlyn, who deserves a great deal of credit for the existence of MESA.

Why did my inlists and/or run_star_extras stop working?

As MESA evolves, inlist options, variable names, and other aspects of the code change in ways that are not backward-compatible. Here is a list of some of the major renaming events; it is by no means exhaustive. Consult the release notes for these versions for more information.

Prereqs & Installation

Can MESA be run on 32-bit machines?

MESA is no longer supported on 32-bit systems. This isn't by design; we simply haven't been able to get it to work! So if you REALLY want to use an antique 32-bit system for MESA, you'll have to try to make it work yourself.

Which SVN revisions were MESA release versions?

Why is my MESA zipfile download taking forever?

The MESA zipfiles are large (~1GB), so if you're on a slow connection, there's nothing to be done. However, users have reported substantial variations in download speed from the sourceforge site. If you are experiencing slow download speeds, you may want to change which mirror you are using. (After you select a zipfile to download, click the "try another mirror" link near the top of the page.)

Why am I getting "wrong module version" errors?

Errors like

Fatal Error: Wrong module version '7' (expected '5')

typically arise because you have changed the gfortran compiler since you last built MESA. (Sometimes a changed gfortran version is an indication that you forgot to activate the MESA SDK.) To fix, run ./clean in the MESA directory, and then try building again.

When I install MESA from a zipfile, why do I get svn errors?

Older versions of MESA (r6794 or earlier) assumed that they would be installed from the subversion repository. Therefore, if you install these versions from a zipfile, you will see messages like

svn: E155007: '/Users/fxt/mesa/mesa-r6794' is not a working copy

when you run MESA. These messages are safe to ignore.

What do I need to do to run MESA on OS X?

It is necessary to take the following actions on recent versions of OS X (10.9 or later) , even if you had a working version of MESA on your previous version of OS X.

xcode-select --install

Why do I get the error "C compiler cannot create executables"?

If you receive the error

configure: error: C compiler cannot create executables
See `config.log' for more details.

during the MESA installation of crlibm, please check that you are not using an unsupported 32-bit system. If you're using OS X, make sure you've installed Xcode and the command line tools.

If you're using Linux and you see an error message like

In file included from /opt/mesasdk/lib/gcc/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu/5.3.1/include-fixed/features.h:338:0,
                 from /usr/include/bits/libc-header-start.h:33,
                 from /usr/include/stdio.h:28,
                 from test.c:1:
/usr/include/sys/cdefs.h:481:49: error: missing binary operator before token "("
 #if __GNUC_PREREQ (4,8) || __glibc_clang_prereq (3,5)
In file included from test.c:1:0:
/usr/include/stdio.h:320:43: error: missing binary operator before token "("
 #if defined __USE_XOPEN2K8 || __GLIBC_USE (LIB_EXT2)
/usr/include/stdio.h:399:17: error: missing binary operator before token "("
/usr/include/stdio.h:657:43: error: missing binary operator before token "("
 #if defined __USE_XOPEN2K8 || __GLIBC_USE (LIB_EXT2)

you may need to tell gcc to regenerate its fixed header files. You can do so with a command like

$MESASDK_ROOT/libexec/gcc/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu/5.3.1/install-tools/mkheaders $MESASDK_ROOT

though the exact path (i.e. the 5.3.1 part) may vary slightly depending on which version of gcc is included in the MESA SDK release you are using.

If the error persists, please email and

PGPLOT and pgstar

Why don't I see any PGPLOT output when I run MESA?

Make sure you have the option pgstar_flag = .TRUE. in the &star_job section of your input file. Also, if you're not using the SDK, make sure you enabled PGPLOT in your utils/makefile_header file (when using the SDK, PGPLOT is enabled by default).

How can I make a movie from my pgstar output?

As of the 20140713 release, the MESA SDK includes the ffmpeg encoder and a simple script,, which uses ffmpeg to create movies from PNG files produced by MESA.

To make use of this capability, consult Rich's instructions.


What programming language is MESA written in?

Fortran. But MESA is written using advanced features of modern Fortran which make it very different from Fortran 77 codes you might have previously seen (or written!). If you are not already familiar with the new and wonderful things that have been added, there are good resources available on the web -- here's one: Fortran 95 language features.

What does "thread-safe" mean?

"Thread-safe" simply means that users can take advantage of multicore processors.

For example, during stellar evolution, you need to evaluate the eos at lots of points:

do k = 1, num_zones
    call eos(T(k), rho(k), ....)
end do

Most fortran compilers (ifort and gfortran and others) support OpenMP, so the loop can be made to run in parallel by adding 2 lines of magic:

do k = 1, num_zones
    call eos(T(k), rho(k), ....)
end do

Now, if I have 4 cores, I'll have 4 threads of execution evaluating the eos.

However, for it to work, the implementation needs to be thread-safe. In practice this means, making shared data read-only after initialization. Working memory must be allocated from the stack (as local variables of routines) or allocated dynamically (using fortran95's allocate primitive). So, basically it boils down to avoiding common blocks and save's. It's easy to arrange for this in new code; it can be nasty converting old code however. Stellar evolution is a good candidate for making use of many cores. Just wrapping "parallel" directives around some loops does it if the system is designed with that in mind -- and MESA is. But there is still much to be done to make good use of more than 3 or 4 cores in MESA/star.
It will be an ongoing effort to improve the design of the code in that area; help with that is welcomed!

How can I use an individual MESA module?

The easiest way to get the idea is to look at a sample, and in the MESA directory you will find a subdirectory called “sample”. Make a copy of the sample directory anywhere you’d like and give it whatever name you want. Follow the instructions in the README file to make and test the sample.

Third-party Tools

How can I read and/or plot MESA data using language X?

Users have posted numerous useful scripts in a variety of languages on the MESA marketplace.

How can I include the effects of chemical enhancements on the opacities?

Ehsan Moravveji has developed a package available for free access on bitbucket to recompute OP opacities for any desired mixture (that MESA supports) and for any user-specified iron and nickel enhancement factors.