"Aliens might have existed during the Universe’s infancy. A set of calculations suggests that liquid water — a prerequisite for life — could have formed on rocky planets just 15 million years after the Big Bang..." (Nature, Article)
Recent technical advances and observations have now demonstrated that the goal of making an image of a black hole is within reach. Using the technique of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), in which widely separated radio dishes are linked together to form an Earth-sized array, our group has succeeded in confirming event horizon scale structures in two super massive black holes: Sagittarius A*, the 4 million solar mass black hole at the center of the Milky Way (Nature, 455, 78, '08), and M87, a 6 billion solar mass black hole in the giant elliptical galaxy Virgo A (Science, 338, 355 Read more about Shep Doeleman: Imaging Black Holes with The Event Horizon Telescope
A team of planet hunters estimates that about 22 percent of the Sun-like stars in our galaxy may have planets about the size of Earth that are bathed in similar amounts of sunlight — and potentially habitable. That's the conclusion of a new analysis by Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley of observations taken by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched in 2009 to hunt for potentially habitable Earth-like planets around other stars. Read more about Galaxy Quest: Just How Many Earth-Like Planets Are Out There?
Each year, the MacArthur Foundation names several dozen of the nation's most creative and influential people as MacArthur Fellows which provides funds for two years which the recipients can use toward any purpose. The Class of 2013 awardees includes Harvard alumna Sara Seager.
Referring to them as "an array of the most brilliant," David Bjerklie and the editors of Time Magazine in a photo-centric supplement entitled The 25 Most Influential People in Space named Avi Loeb, Dave Charbonneau, Adam Reiss and Sara Seager for their contributions to astronomical research.
The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning works to advance the quality of undergraduate education by providing Harvard’s teachers with resources, programs and support that promote excellence in teaching. Each semester it recognizes with a Certificate of Distinction in Teaching those student instructors whose work is exemplary based on peer evaluations.
What is dark matter? Well, we know what it's probably not: black holes. Astronomy Chair, Avi Loeb, and several colleagues decided to test the idea whether or not smallish black holes could be the source of the universe's dark matter, and Time Magazine's Michael Lemonick has written an excellent overview of their conclusions.
Professor Bob Kirshner celebrates the successful casting of the third of seven mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope which the Dean of FAS, Michael Smith, has just approved as a major funding-raising focus for the University. The casts are made under the University of Arizona football stadium overseen by the Steward Observatory there.
Are the inhabitants of Earth the only life forms in the universe, or could life exist elsewhere? As astronomers rapidly identify exoplanets—those beyond our solar system—the question has been transformed from a science-fiction trope to one discussed in scientific journals and conferences according to Professor of Astronomy, Dimitar Sasselov.
A group of graduate students, including six from the Harvard Department of Astronomy, developed and organized Communicating Science 2013, or “ComSciCon 2013”, a first-of-its kind workshop on science communication specifically for grad students in the sciences and engineering. ComSciCon brought together graduate students from across the country and from a wide range of scientific disciplines to the Microsoft NERD center in Cambridge on June 13-15. These 50 attendees were selected from a pool of 730 applicants based on their enthusiasm for and achievements in communicating science.
More than 12 billion years ago a star exploded, ripping itself apart and blasting its remains outward in twin jets at nearly the speed of light. At its death it glowed so brightly that it outshone its entire galaxy by a million times. Associate Professor Edo Berger and Ryan Chornock, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, were able to gear up quickly to collect data on it's afterglow just hours after it was detected by NASA's Swift spacecraft on June 6th.
A gamma-ray burst is a flash of high-energy light (gamma rays) from an extremely energetic explosion. Associate Professor of Astronomy Edo Berger, Harvard graduate student Wen-fai Fong and Ryan Chornock recently observed data from a gamma-ray burst GRB 130603B which, at a distance of 3.9 billion light-years from Earth, is one of the nearest bursts seen to date. Read more about Earth's gold came from colliding neutron stars