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Stephen Hawking visits Harvard for the inauguration of Harvard's Black Hole Initiative

April 25, 2016
"World-famous theoretical cosmologist Stephen W. Hawking discussed the history of and recent breakthroughs in research on black holes at the inauguration of Harvard's Black Hole Initiative in Sanders Theatre on Monday afternoon.
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Destination: Nearest star

Destination: Nearest star

April 15, 2016

Astronomer explains plan to send tiny spaceships to Alpha Centauri

"A group of astronomers and technology entrepreneurs has announced an audacious plan to send a fleet of tiny spaceships traveling at a fifth the speed of light to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri. 

"The plan would see humankind leap out of the solar system with the aid of an ultralight vessel made of what are essentially cellphone components and a thin, reflective light sail propelled by an enormous array of Earth-based lasers. 

Read full interview with Avi Loeb. 

...

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Astronomy 191 Students pose with Bob Wilson

Astro191 Undergrads visit Bell Labs with Bob Wilson and make measurements with the telescope that "discovered the Big Bang"

April 4, 2016

On April 2, twelve students of the advanced undergraduate lab course Astro191 along with Prof. John Kovac (course head), Prof. Josh Grindlay, Teaching Fellow Tyler St. Germaine, and other enthusiastic friends from the CfA community traveled to Holmdel, NJ to the Bell Labs facilities where radio astronomy was "discovered" by Karl Jansky in 1932 and where fossil radiation from the Big Bang, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), was first detected in 1965.  The visit was hosted by Nobel laureate Bob Wilson (now at the CfA) who described the history and...

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Fast Radio Burst "Afterglow" Was Actually a Flickering Black Hole

Fast Radio Burst "Afterglow" Was Actually a Flickering Black Hole

April 4, 2016
Last February a team of astronomers reported detecting an afterglow from a mysterious event called a fast radio burst, which would pinpoint the precise position of the burst's origin, a longstanding goal in studies of these mysterious events. These findings were quickly called into question by follow-up observations. New research by Harvard astronomers Peter Williams and Edo Berger shows that the radio emission believed to be an afterglow actually originated from a distant galaxy's core and was unassociated with the fast radio burst.
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Yuan-Sen Ting will participate in the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Yuan-Sen Ting will participate in the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

March 2, 2016

Astronomy’s Yuan-Sen Ting will participate in the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.  He was chosen via an international, multi-stage application process.  The 396 grad students and post docs, all under the age of 35 from 80 countries, will get the chance to spend a week with 30 Nobel Laureates mainly from the field of physics. Many participants will have the opportunity to...

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Phillip Hopkins

Phillip Hopkins 2008 Wins Warner Prize

February 22, 2016

Phillip Hopkins 2008, won this year's Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society for his research on galaxy formation and evolution and the growth of supermassive black holes. This prize is given to recognize an early-career astronomer, who in the past five years has made significant contributions to the field of Astronomy. 

Read More: https://aas.org/grants-and-prizes/helen-b-warner-prize-astronomy

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A gamma ray burst

LIGO’s black holes may have lived and died inside a huge star

February 17, 2016

Call it a gut reaction. The revolutionary discovery of space-time ripples may have come from two black holes colliding while inside the belly of an enormous star, whose subsequent collapse launched powerful jets of gamma rays.

Scientists already knew that the gravitational waves detected by LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, were generated when two black holes...

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Astronomers Report Results of First Search for Visible Light Associated with Gravitational Waves

Astronomers Report Results of First Search for Visible Light Associated with Gravitational Waves

February 14, 2016

Einstein's general theory of relativity predicts the emission of gravitational waves by massive celestial bodies moving though space-time. For the past century gravitational waves have eluded a direct detection, but now the LIGO Virgo Collaboration has announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves, emitted by a merging pair of black holes. Catastrophic mergers of binary systems can also produce brilliant and explosive fireworks of light, so a team of astronomers, including at Harvard, sought evidence of such an visible afterglow. Although none was spotted, this work...

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Moiya McTier

Moiya McTier Awarded 2016 Chambliss Student Achievement Award

February 9, 2016

Meet Moiya McTier, recipient of the 2016 Chambliss Student Achievement Award. This award is granted every year by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) to recognize exemplary research by undergraduate and graduate students. Moiya is currently a senior at Harvard University. She won this award for her work on determining exoplanet habitability using orbital eccentricity. She conducted this research last summer, when she was a member of the Harvard Banneker Institute.  This work ties directly to...

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AAS awards Dr. Karin I. Öberg the Pierce Prize

AAS awards Dr. Karin I. Öberg the Pierce Prize

January 5, 2016

The AAS awards Dr. Karin I. Öberg the Pierce Prize for her research on the astrochemistry and astrophysics of ices and molecules in star-forming regions and proto-planetary disks. The panel recognizes Dr. Öberg’s scientific leadership in her ability to identify important, well-defined, and tractable problems, yielding fundamental advances in the field of star and planet formation. Dr. Öberg’s combination of experimental work matched to focused millimeter observations and comparison simulations provides novel insight into the details of chemical processes taking place in planet-forming...

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Qizhou Zhang: Magnetic Fields and Massive Star Formation

Qizhou Zhang: Magnetic Fields and Massive Star Formation

December 1, 2015

Stars are assembled in molecular clouds when matters condense and collapse under the gravitational pull. Massive stars (M > 8 Msun) are found mostly in clusters together with lower mass stellar objects (Lada & Lada 2003). How parsec-scale, massive molecular clumps collapse and fragment to give rise to a cluster of stars has been one of the central questions in star formation in the past decade. Jeans mass, the characteristic mass of fragments, is 1Msun for typical physical conditions in (pre) cluster forming clumps (Zhang et al. 2009, 2015). This mass, after taking account the star...

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Tiny, Ultracool Star is Super Stormy

Tiny, Ultracool Star is Super Stormy

November 19, 2015

"Our Sun is a relatively quiet star that only occasionally releases solar flares or blasts of energetic particles that threaten satellites and power grids. You might think that smaller, cooler stars would be even more sedate. However, astronomers have now identified a tiny star with a monstrous temper. It shows evidence of much stronger flares than anything our Sun produces. If similar stars prove to be just as stormy, then potentially habitable planets orbiting them are likely to be much less hospitable than previously thought"

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