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Lindsay Smith, acting curator of the Plate Stacks at the Harvard College Observatory

'Hidden Figures' Of Astronomy At Harvard Take Center Stage In Play About Women 'Computers'

March 15, 2017

Listen to local public radio station WBUR segment about the Watertown play Silent Sky  about the Harvard College Observatory "computers."

Meredith Hughes (PhD 2010) is interviewed at the end of the segment about her great-grandmother, a  former head computer at Lockheed Martin.


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.

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.

Destination: Nearest star

Destination: Nearest star

April 15, 2016

Astronomer explains plan to send tiny spaceships to Alpha Centauri

"A group of astronomers and technology entrepreneurs has announced an audacious plan to send a fleet of tiny spaceships traveling at a fifth the speed of light to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri. 

"The plan would see humankind leap out of the solar system with the aid of an ultralight vessel made of what are essentially cellphone components and a thin, reflective light sail propelled by an enormous array of Earth-based lasers. 

Read full interview with Avi Loeb. 

Fast Radio Burst "Afterglow" Was Actually a Flickering Black Hole

Fast Radio Burst "Afterglow" Was Actually a Flickering Black Hole

April 4, 2016
Last February a team of astronomers reported detecting an afterglow from a mysterious event called a fast radio burst, which would pinpoint the precise position of the burst's origin, a longstanding goal in studies of these mysterious events. These findings were quickly called into question by follow-up observations. New research by Harvard astronomers Peter Williams and Edo Berger shows that the radio emission believed to be an afterglow actually originated from a distant galaxy's core and was unassociated with the fast radio burst.