Prof. Edo Berger has been named one of the winners of the third annual Star Family Challenge for Promising Scientific Research, a faculty research award program established at the suggestion of James A. Star ’83. The Star Family Challenge provides seed funding for high-risk, high-impact projects in the natural and social sciences.
"World-famous theoretical cosmologist Stephen W. Hawking discussed the history of and recent breakthroughs in research on black holes at the inauguration of Harvard's Black Hole Initiative in Sanders Theatre on Monday afternoon.
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.
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.
Abraham “Avi” Loeb, Chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy and C. Meghan Urry, Director of Yale University’s Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, take us on a tour of these remarkable discoveries.
Call it a gut reaction. The revolutionary discovery of space-time ripples may have come from two black holes colliding while inside the belly of an enormous star, whose subsequent collapse launched powerful jets of gamma rays.
Graduate student Catherine Zucker’s research was featured on the American Astronomical Society’s “Nova” (News) site! Cara Battersby, SMA postdoc collaborator & Catherine’s REU mentor is the other co-author.
"Archaeologists and astronomers don’t seem to have much in common. One digs into the earth while the other looks at the sky, and a stone tool once wielded by Homo erectus couldn’t be more different from an exploding star at the edge of the visible universe...
"Our Sun is a relatively quiet star that only occasionally releases solar flares or blasts of energetic particles that threaten satellites and power grids. You might think that smaller, cooler stars would be even more sedate. However, astronomers have now identified a tiny star with a monstrous temper. It shows evidence of much stronger flares than anything our Sun produces. If similar stars prove to be just as stormy, then potentially habitable planets orbiting them are likely to be much less hospitable than previously thought"
Below is the video link just posted for Avi Loeb's lecture on "Black Holes" at the 100 Years Celebration of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, held at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton on November 6, 2015,
The program aired at 8PM England on September 9. The link to the video is below. You might be amused by the closing couple of minutes of where Avi Loeb grades the scientific accuracy of the biblical story of genesis.
With the goal of inspiring young kids to enter science, the Science Education Center of the Smithsonian Institution produced the following video about Avi Loeb's unconventional career path from a farm in Israel to Harvard,
"As astronomical techniques become more advanced, a team of astrophysicists think they will be able to not only detect the signatures of alien life in exoplanetary atmospheres, but also track its relentless spread throughout the galaxy.
The research, headed by Henry Lin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), assumes that this feat may be possible in a generation or so and that the hypothesis of panspermia may act as the delivery system for alien biology to hop from one star system to another."