"Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist if replenished by life. But those gases come from simple life forms like microbes. What about advanced civilizations? Would they leave any detectable signs?" Read more about A New Approach to SETI: Targeting Alien Polluters
Harvard Astronomy Professor, Daniel Eisenstein, along with Shaun Cole and John Peacock, to receive the 2014 Shaw prize in astronomy for their contributions to the measurements of features in the large-scale structure of galaxies used to constrain the cosmological model including baryon acoustic oscillations and redshift-space distortions. Read more about 2014 Shaw Prize in Astronomy
Alexander Krolewski, has been awarded a Hoopes Prize for the project entitled "Measuring the luminosity and black hole mass dependence of quasar-galaxy clustering at z ~ 0.8." Natania Wolansky, has been awarded a Hoopes Prize for the project entitled "Are You There Gas? It's Me, Planet: The Effects of Gas on Growth of Gas Giant Cores through Planetesimal Accretion." Read more about 2014 Hoopes Prize and Goldberg Prize Awarded to Astrononomy Undergraduates
The Big Brain Explaining the Growing Universe "Some 14 billion years ago, a violent burst of antigravity drove space to expand at a blistering rate that momentarily exceeded the speed of light..." Read More: http://time.com/70868/john-kovac-2014-time-100/
The graduating Senior Concentrators in the Department presented their theses on April 7, 2014 in Phillips Auditorium. Pictured below are: (left to right) Caleb Canas, Diana Powell, Natania Wolansky, Adrian Arteaga, and Brian Claus.
Asteroids have great interest: not only do they preserve information about the earliest times in the pre-Solar nebula, and as a result contain unique minerals, they are also hazards to the Earth (see Chelyabinks) and are the easiest objects to reach with spacecraft. As targets for human exploration, scientific discovery, retrieval to Earth-Moon space and sources of abundant resources both for space and on Earth, asteroids are worth paying attention to. I investigate all aspects of near-Earth asteroids related to hazards, expeditions and especially resources, i.e. asteroid mining. Read more about Martin Elvis: Asteroids
For a long time we have known that our view of the centers of quasars is often blocked by optically thick dusty material - the ‚Äúobscuring torus‚Äù. But to block a large solid angle requires a large height/radius ratio which is hard to achieve with cold matter. Andy Lawrence and I proposed that a thin torus that is twisted through large angles is a natural solution. I am investigating the spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of quasars in SDSS adding near-IR UKIDSS and mid-IR WISE data to see if the predictions of our model hold up. Read more about Martin Elvis: Quasar Spectral Energy Distributions: Twisted Tori
Detection and characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres, with emphasis on developing new observational techniques to study the atmospheres of the Earth-like planets to be discovered by the NASA TESS mission.
Celebrating the Impact of New Ideas and New Discoveries Sarah Rugheimer, Harvard Astronomy Graduate Student, was one of the eight selected Harvard Scholars who joined President Faust, Provost Alan Garber, FAS Dean Mike Smith, and GSAS Dean Xiao-Li Meng as the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences celebrated the power of new ideas — and the talent and innovation of the scholars who are generating them.
"The landscape in Chile’s Atacama desert is Martian-like: dry, barren and flanked by volcanoes, and its high altitude and unpolluted skies make it a prime spot for stargazing. It was there, after a full night of such observation — and over a 4 p.m. breakfast — that astronomer Stefan Gillessen found himself in possession of some very special data. His observations showed a cloud of gas being stretched out, or “spaghettified,” about to be ripped apart, as it barreled toward the black hole at the center of our galaxy." Read more about A gas cloud collides with the black hole at the center of our galaxy, and we get to watch