Dave Charbonneau awarded a Blavatnik Fellowship

Dave Charbonneau awarded a Blavatnik Fellowship

June 21, 2016

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".

The announcement may be read at:

ESO/M. Kornmesser

Detection of Methanol Shows Comets are Forming in Distant Solar System

June 15, 2016

Astronomers announced today that they have found the organic molecule methyl alcohol, or methanol, in the TW Hydrae protoplanetary disk. This is the first such detection of this chemical compound in a young planet-forming disk. Because methanol forms on the icy coatings of small dust grains, this discovery provides a window into the region where comets likely are forming. 

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Image: Christine Pulliam (CfA). Sun image: NASA/SDO

Universe's First Life Might Have Been Born on Carbon Planets

June 8, 2016

"Our Earth consists of silicate rocks and an iron core with a thin veneer of water and life. But the first potentially habitable worlds to form might have been very different. New research suggests that planet formation in the early universe might have created carbon planets consisting of graphite, carbides, and diamond. Astronomers might find these diamond worlds by searching a rare class of stars.

"'This work shows that even stars with a tiny fraction of the carbon in our solar system can host planets,' says lead author and Harvard University graduate student Natalie Mashian.

Graduation 2016

Graduation 2016

June 1, 2016

Congratulations 2016 Grads. 

In the picture:
Maria Drout, Jason Dittmann, Ian Czekala, Aaron Bray, Greg Green
Elisabeth Newton, Zack Slepian, Vicente Rodriguez-Lopez, Ana-Maria Piso, Lauren Woolsey


2016 Graduate Student Retreat

May 31, 2016

The graduate student retreat was a success again this year!  Roughly 20 students participated (including 5 first-years) in a day trip to Salem, MA.  Students explored Salem, visited the Friendship ship, went kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing.  At the end of the day, they gathered for an outdoor barbecue with a beautiful view of the harbor. 

Alyssa Goodman Photo

Alyssa Goodman selected for 2016–2017 fellowship class at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

May 17, 2016

Alyssa Goodman has been selected to join the 50 other women and men, who are the 2016–2017 fellowship class at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, where the acceptance rate to the fellowship program this year was just under 4 percent.

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Wen-fai Fong (PhD 2014) Wins the 2016 APS Division of Astrophysics Thesis Award

Wen-fai Fong (PhD 2014) Wins the 2016 APS Division of Astrophysics Thesis Award

May 3, 2016

Dr. Wen-fai Fong, who completed her doctoral thesis in 2014 with Prof. Edo Berger, was awarded the 2016 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in Astrophysics Prize from the American Physical Society Division of Astrophysics.  Dr. Fong's thesis was titled "Unveiling the Progenitors of Short Gamma-ray Bursts".  Information about the award is available from: and a short bio for Dr.