CFA Press Release: "The universe is 13.8 billion years old, while our planet formed just 4.5 billion years ago. Some scientists think this time gap means that life on other planets could be billions of years older than ours. However, new theoretical work suggests that present-day life is actually premature from a cosmic perspective."
"Astronomers Aaron Smith and Volker Bromm of The University of Texas at Austin, working with Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, have discovered evidence for an unusual kind of black hole born extremely early in the universe. They showed that a recently discovered unusual source of intense radiation is likely powered by a "direct-collapse black hole," a type of object predicted by theorists more than a decade ago."
Dave Charbonneau has been awarded the 2016 Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists in Physical Sciences & Engineering. The award citation recognizes: "pioneering discoveries in the field of exoplanets and the development of novel observational methods to detect and characterize exoplanets with the ultimate goal of discovering habitable worlds".
Marion Dierickx is a 4th-year graduate student working with Prof Avi Loeb on galaxies in the Local Group. With approximately fifty members, the Local Group is our cosmic backyard. In the same way that detailed studies in the Solar neighborhood have informed our understanding of stellar populations, the Local Group is the closest laboratory to study galactic evolution. Marion works on modeling the infall of dwarf galaxies into their larger neighbors, the Milky Way and Andromeda. Leveraging the capabilities of N-Body simulations, she hopes to learn about the evolving structures and morphologies of Local Group dwarfs. Marion serves as a student representative to the Astronomy Department’s Committee on Academic Studies. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking adventures, traveling and horse riding.