April

Stars align at astronomy reunion: Event draws researchers from around the world

April 11, 2013

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Stars align at astronomy reunion: Event draws researchers from around the world.

Left: Ruth Murray-Clay (from left), David Latham, Sara Seager, David Charbonneau, and moderator Charles Alcock were some of the faculty and alumni of the Astronomy Department that recently reunited for a luncheon, panel discussions, and evening reception.

Harvard Gazette Article

Harvard Astronomy's Supernova Forensics group has teamed up with Astronomy 100 undergraduate students to unveil the nature of the peculiar SN2012au

April 2, 2013

Harvard Astronomy's Supernova Forensics group has teamed up with Astronomy 100 undergraduate students to unveil the nature of the peculiar SN2012au - a massive star that exploded some 75 million years ago.  This energetic, slow-evolving and helium-rich explosion provides a golden link between the emerging class of "super-luminous" supernovae and other more seemingly normal supernovae that are far less bright.

Some observations of the supernova were obtained by two generations of Astro 100 students in 2012 and 2013 as part of the department's annual Spring Break trip to Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Arizona. Students were the first to classify the new supernova in 2012 with the FLWO 1.5m telescope within just hours of its discovery by the Catalina Sky Survey.  A year later, the next group of students used the FLWO 1.2m telescope to show that SN2012au is still shining bright and thus evolving slowly.  A paper led by postdoc, Dan Milisavljevic, has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters with details on this unusual stellar explosion (link).

Article in Harvard Crimson