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,...
Picture to the right is Jennifer with Rita Fireman, wife of Edward Fireman during the Honors Ceremony on May 29, 2019. Pictured below are members of the Fireman family who annually attend the awarding of this fellowship, along with Irwin Shapiro (left) who was the Director of the Center for Astrophysics when the Fellowship was first instituted. Jennifer was advised by Karin Öberg.
Amir Siraj was awarded the Goldberg prize for best Junior thesis working with Avi Loeb as his advisor. Soley Hyman was awarded the Goldberg prize for best Senior thesis working with Belinda Wilkes. Not pictured is Mma Ikwut-Ukwa who also received a Goldberg prize for her junior thesis working with David Latham.
On Saturday, May 4th, these four Astronomy concentrators will perform on campus during the ARTS FIRST festival. See https://issuu.com/harvard_artsfirst/docs/arts_first_2019_guide_issuu for the full guide.
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.
"We do not yet know how life first formed on earth, but no scientist argues that it can never be explained in material terms. How prevalent is life throughout the universe? We now know that there are likely even more planets than there are stars. So, is life in the cosmos prevalent or rare? Either answer yields profound implications."
"The rate of growth of new technologies is often proportional to past knowledge, leading to an exponential advance over time. This explosive process implies that very quickly after a civilization reaches technological maturity, it will develop the means for its own destruction through climate change, for example, or nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Developments of this type, over mere hundreds of years, would appear abrupt in the cosmic perspective of billions of years. If such self-destruction is common, this could explain Fermi’s paradox, which asks “where is everybody?”—and...
Avi Loeb's latest Scientific American blog, "Scientific discoveries substantiate our awe when faced with the richness and universality of the laws of nature. But science falls short of explaining this natural order and why it exists in the first place."
“Not all discoveries come from new observations,” says Pete Worden, in a comment referring to original thinking as applied to an existing dataset. Worden is executive director of the Breakthrough Initiatives program, which includes Breakthrough Listen, an ambitious attempt to use SETI techniques to search for signs of technological activity in the universe. Note that last word: The targets Breakthrough Listen examines do extend to about one million stars in the...
Read the new Scientitic American blog entry by Avi Loeb,
"Progress in science is sometimes triggered by surprises. Data collection resembles gathering of new pieces in a jigsaw puzzle and placing them together. Sometimes one of the pieces does not quite fit. It is natural for scientists to instinctively argue that such a piece does not belong; perhaps it is an artifact driven by uncertainties in the data or a misinterpretation of the experiment."