How did the first stars and galaxies bring the young universe out of its dark ages and into the light? Three prominent researchers, including Harvard Astronomy Professor Avi Loeb, discuss how new instruments and observational techniques may find the answer.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced the selection of 126 outstanding U.S. and Canadian researchers as recipients of Sloan Research Fellowships for 2012. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders. Harvard Astronomy Professor Alicia Soderberg was selected for this honor.
Kaisey Mandel (Harvard Ph.D. Astronomy 2011), who is currently a postdoc in the Astrostatistics group at Imperial College London has been notified that he is a finalist for this year's Savage Award for the best doctoral dissertation by the International Society for Bayesian Analysis. They are inviting him to their meeting in Tokyo to give a talk and attend the award ceremonies.
The cores of most galaxies are thought to harbor black holes with masses of a million or more suns. But many remain unseen until an unlucky star passes too close and is pulled apart by tidal forces. The stellar debris gathers into a disk and spirals towards the black hole in the center. As it does, it may form a jet of material that beams high-energy light like a flashlight. Last spring, the Swift satellite measured a flare of x rays and gamma rays from a distant galaxy that has the hallmarks of such a jet that happens to point right at us.… Read more about Synopsis: Tidal Disruption of a Star (N. Stone and A. Loeb)
The Annie Jump Cannon Award for outstanding research and promise for future research by a woman goes to Heather Knutson (Caltech) "for her pioneering work on the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres." Knutson's groundbreaking observations of wavelength-dependent thermal emission of exoplanets over large fractions of their orbit have revealed details of atmospheric dynamics, energy transport, inversion layers, and chemical composition. Her work has expanded the rich field of planetary characterization by providing new windows into the atmospheres of planets beyond the confines of our solar system.