Scientists discover seven primitive galaxies with Hubble, see “ultrasound” image of early universe

December 13, 2012

THE DEEP END: Images of a small patch of sky called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field have revealed several of the most distant galaxies ever seen. The newfound galaxies and their associated redshifts are labeled on the Hubble image. 

Read articles from around the world about the discovery of the earliest galaxies, the deepest archeological dig of the Universe so far. It identified a record redshift of 11.9 for a previously known galaxy and provides the first comprehensive census of baby galaxies when the universe was only 400-400 million years old.  Brant Robertson, a PhD alumni of Harvard Astronomy department is a member of the discovery team. He was quoted in the following report.

Inaugural "Astro-Marathon"

November 14, 2012

After completing the 26.2 mile Manchester, NH Marathon. From left: Meredith MacGregor, Luke Kelley, Chris Faesi, Ian Czekala, and Maria Drout

On Sunday, Nov 4th, 5 graduate students from the astronomy department ran the Manchester, NH Marathon or Half-marathon: Maria Drout, Chris Faesi, Luke Kelley, Meredith MacGregor, and Ian Czekala. All finished with smiles on their faces and glints in their eyes--with 3 of the competitors completing their first long-distance race. We hope this inaugural "astro-marathon" becomes a tradition, and we welcome future participation from students and faculty in the department!

Professor David Charbonneau was selected among the 100 Alumni of Influence of the University of Toronto

November 5, 2012
Professor David Charbonneau was selected among the 100 Almuni of Influence of the University of Toronto in Canada.  The Alumni of Influence were selected based their contributions to their professional field at an international, national, or local level, as well as their volunteerism within the wider community and their philanthropy. The list of distinguished alumni includes Astronomer Wendy Freedman (Carnegie) and Nobel Laureate in Physics, Walter Kohn (Santa Barbara); for more details

Galactic Thief: "I Would Have Gotten Away With It, If It Weren't for Those Meddling Astronomers"

October 30, 2012

Gurtina Besla, PhD alumni of Harvard Astronomy Department, is lead author on this article featured in this CFA Press release.

One of the closest galaxies to the Milky Way almost got away with theft. However, new simulations convicted the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) of stealing stars from its neighbor, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). And the crucial evidence came from surveys looking for something entirely different - dark objects on the outskirts of the Milky Way.

CFA Press Release

Alex Dalgarno selected for the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics

October 22, 2012


Alexander Dalgarno, Ph.D. 
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts 

Citation: For his many fundamental contributions to the development of the field of molecular astrophysics, which led to a better understanding of interstellar space, including the giant molecular clouds that are the birthplaces of stars and planets. 

Read More: The Franklin Institute 2013 Laureates

Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellowship awarded to Avi Loeb

September 24, 2012
Prof. Avi Loeb has been awarded the 2013 Miegunyah Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at the University of Melbourne in Australia. This award is given to academics of international distinction in a field of interest to the University of Melbourne. Fellows are expected to present a public lecture and several specialist lectures. Previous recipients include Barbara Grosz, Tory Higgins, Thomas Mann, Michael Waltzer, and Joseph

Irwin Shapiro was awarded the 2013 Einstein Prize of The American Physical Society

September 20, 2012

Irwin Shapiro was awarded the 2013 Einstein Prize of The American Physical Society. The Prize was established to recognize outstanding accomplishments in the field of gravitational physics and consists of $10,000 and a certificate that includes the appropriate citation. The citation that will appear on

Irwin's certificate reads as follows:

"For his contributions to experimental solar system tests of relativistic theories of gravity, and in particular for proposing and measuring the Shapiro time delay effect."

The Einstein Prize will be presented at APS April 2013 Meeting in Denver, CO, April 13-16, 2013, at a special Ceremonial session.

Capturing the stars with video and sound, CFA fellow turns astronomical data into art

September 11, 2012

Image Credit: Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Alex Parker, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’ Institute for Theory and Computation, has created several astronomical videos on his own time and posted them on the Internet. His latest video depicts the 2,299 planet candidates Kepler has found since it began searching for planets around stars in 2009.

Harvard Gazette Article

Supernova Sonata” video

Worlds: The Kepler Planet Candidates” video

Planets Can Form in the Galactic Center

September 11, 2012

In this artist's conception, a protoplanetary disk of gas and dust (red) is being shredded by the powerful gravitational tides of our galaxy's central black hole.
Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

At first glance, the center of the Milky Way seems like a very inhospitable place to try to form a planet. Stars crowd each other as they whiz through space like cars on a rush-hour freeway. Supernova explosions blast out shock waves and bathe the region in intense radiation. Powerful gravitational forces from a super-massive black hole twist and warp the fabric of space itself. 

Avi Loeb appointed the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science

September 10, 2012
Harvard Astronomy Professor Avi Loeb has been appointed the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science, effective July 1, 2012.  This professorship, established through the generous gift of the Frank B. Baird Jr. Foundation, recognizes an outstanding scientist in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Record-Breaking Stellar Explosion Helps Understand Far-Off Galaxy

September 4, 2012

An international research team, led by Edo Berger of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, made the most of a dying star’s fury to probe a distant galaxy some 9.5 billion light-years distant. The dying star, which lit the galactic scene, is the most distant stellar explosion of its kind ever studied. According to Berger, “It’s like someone turned on a flashlight in a dark room and suddenly allowed us to see, for a short time, what this far-off galaxy looks like, what it is composed of.”

CfA Press Release