News and Events

Artists Conception of Habitable Zone

More to Life Than the Habitable Zone

July 13, 2017
"Cambridge, MA - Two separate teams of scientists have identified major challenges for the development of life in what has recently become one of the most famous exoplanet systems, TRAPPIST-1. "

"The teams, both led by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., say the behavior of the star in the TRAPPIST-1 system makes it much less likely than generally thought, that planets there could support life."

Press Release: ...

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Centauri b artist conception

PNAS article on Proxima Centauri b

June 28, 2017

"An Earth-sized planet next door: that was the startling announcement last August. Astronomers had found an exoplanet orbiting the sun’s closest stellar neigh- bor, a cool red dwarf star called Proxima Centauri (1). Even better, the nearby world orbited within its parent star’s habitable zone, meaning liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface, which raised the prospects for its harboring life."

Read More:

  • All eyes on Proxima Centauri b: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/26/6646.full.pdf
  • Is there life around the nearest...
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Hannah Jano-Condell

Hannah Jang-Condell (Astronomy PhD '04) granted tenure at the University of Wyoming

June 12, 2017

Hannah Jang-Condell, our alum who received her Ph.D. in 2004, has been given tenure at the University of Wyoming.  She is an Associate Professor in their Physics and Astronomy Department. She studies planet formation theory, protoplanetary disk models, extrasolar planets, computational astrophysics, astrobiology.  Congratulations, Hannah!

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Black hole cartoon image

Ravenous Supermassive Black Holes May Sterilize Nearby Planets

May 31, 2017

Press coverage of a new paper in Scientific American: A new study sheds light on how damaging black holes can be to the habitability of planets throughout the Milky Way and the universe.

Link: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ravenous-supermassive-black-holes-may-sterilize-nearby-planets/

Astrobites: https://astrobites.org/2017/05/30/blown-away-by-black-holes-losing-planetary-atmospheres-to-quasar-radiation/

Image: This artist’s conception of a distant quasar shows how luminous they can be—...

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Patrick Thaddeus

Pat Thaddeus

April 28, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

I am very sorry to report that our colleague Pat Thaddeus passed away this morning. 

Pat was a highly influential teacher and astronomer for over 50 years, including the past 30 at the CfA. His interests were extremely broad, including pioneering work on the cosmic microwave background radiation, planetary atmospheres, and large-scale studies of star formation and galactic structure. He was one of the founders of the now flourishing field of astrochemistry.  His elegant laboratory spectroscopy provided ironclad identifications of...

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Dava Sobel

Light years ahead: Star analysts of Harvard College Observatory struck Dava Sobel as book-worthy history

April 12, 2017

Read an interview with Dava Sobel about her book the Glass Universe about the Harvard College Observatory. 

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/star-analysts-of-harvard-college-observatory-inspired-new-book-by-dava-sobel/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=04.12.2017%20(1)

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Astronomy Rewind Image Capture

With Astronomy Rewind, Citizen Scientists Bring Zombie Astrophotos Back to Life

March 23, 2017

 

"A new citizen-science project will rescue tens of thousands of potentially valuable cosmic images that are mostly dead to science and bring them fully back to life. Called Astronomy Rewind, the effort, which launches today (22 March 2017), will take photographs, radio maps, and other telescopic images that have been scanned from the pages of dusty old journals and place them in context in digital sky atlases and catalogs. Anyone will then be able to find them online and compare them with modern electronic data...

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Lindsay Smith, acting curator of the Plate Stacks at the Harvard College Observatory

'Hidden Figures' Of Astronomy At Harvard Take Center Stage In Play About Women 'Computers'

March 15, 2017

Local public radio station WBUR recently broadcast a segment about the Watertown play Silent Sky  about the Harvard College Observatory "computers:" Meredith Hughes (PhD 2010) is interviewed at the end of the segment about her great-grandmother, a  former head computer at Lockheed Martin. ...

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Farthest Stars

Farthest stars in Milky Way might be ripped from another galaxy

January 11, 2017

Harvard Graduate student Marion Dierickx recent paper featured:

"The 11 farthest known stars in our galaxy are located about 300,000 light-years from Earth, well outside the Milky Way's spiral disk. New research by Harvard astronomers shows that half of those stars might have been ripped from another galaxy: the Sagittarius dwarf. Moreover, they are members of a lengthy stream of stars extending one million light-years across space, or 10 times the width of our galaxy."

Read more at: ...

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Rebekah Dawson Photo

Rebekah Dawson '13 Selected for 2017 Annie Jump Cannon Award

January 11, 2017

The 2017 Annie Jump Cannon Award for outstanding research and promise for the future by a postdoctoral woman scientist goes to Rebekah Dawson (Pennsylvania State University, Harvard Astronomy PhD 2013) for her work modeling the dynamical interactions of exoplanets in multiplanet systems. Her studies help explain exoplanets’ mutual orbital inclinations and eccentricities as well as their migration toward and away from each other and their host star. She has also...

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The American Astronomical Society has selected Professor Charlie Conroy to receive the Helen. B. Warner Prize for 2017

The American Astronomical Society has selected Professor Charlie Conroy to receive the Helen. B. Warner Prize for 2017

January 10, 2017

The American Astronomical Society has selected Professor Charlie Conroy to receive the Helen. B. Warner Prize for 2017.  The prize includes a cash award and an invitation to give a plenary talk, hopefully at the upcoming summer AAS meeting in Austin, Texas.  AAS Press Release 

The Helen B. Warner Prize is given annually for a significant contribution to observational...

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President Obama Honors Federally-Funded Early-Career Scientists

President Obama Honors Federally-Funded Early-Career Scientists

January 9, 2017

In recognition of his work in advancing the most sensitive measurements of polarization of the cosmic microwave background, the faint fossil radiation from the Big Bang, Professor John Kovac was selected by President Obama as one of 102 scientists and researchers as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on...

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