Dave Charbonneau has been awarded the 2016 Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists in Physical Sciences & Engineering. The award citation recognizes: "pioneering discoveries in the field of exoplanets and the development of novel observational methods to detect and characterize exoplanets with the ultimate goal of discovering habitable worlds".
Astronomers announced today that they have found the organic molecule methyl alcohol, or methanol, in the TW Hydrae protoplanetary disk. This is the first such detection of this chemical compound in a young planet-forming disk. Because methanol forms on the icy coatings of small dust grains, this discovery provides a window into the region where comets likely are forming.
"Our Earth consists of silicate rocks and an iron core with a thin veneer of water and life. But the first potentially habitable worlds to form might have been very different. New research suggests that planet formation in the early universe might have created carbon planets consisting of graphite, carbides, and diamond. Astronomers might find these diamond worlds by searching a rare class of stars.
"'This work shows that even stars with a tiny fraction of the carbon in our solar system can host planets,' says lead author and Harvard University graduate student Natalie Mashian....
The graduate student retreat was a success again this year! Roughly 20 students participated (including 5 first-years) in a day trip to Salem, MA. Students explored Salem, visited the Friendship ship, went kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing. At the end of the day, they gathered for an outdoor barbecue with a beautiful view of the harbor.
Dave Charbonneau and Avi Loeb joined forces to announce honors and awards at the annual Honors Colloquium on Monday, May 23. Among the many students cited, two undergraduates received Goldberg Prizes (Tom Leith and Matt Pasquini) and two graduates received Fireman Fellowships (Maria Drout and Elisabeth Newton). ... Read more about 2016 Astronomy Honors Colloquium and Picnic
Alyssa Goodman has been selected to join the 50 other women and men, who are the 2016–2017 fellowship class at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, where the acceptance rate to the fellowship program this year was just under 4 percent.
David Charbonneau, Harvard Astronomy, was one of five faculty selected as Harvard College Professors, a five-year appointment that provides them with extra support for research or scholarly activities.
Dr. Wen-fai Fong, who completed her doctoral thesis in 2014 with Prof. Edo Berger, was awarded the 2016 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in Astrophysics Prize from the American Physical Society Division of Astrophysics. Dr. Fong's thesis was titled "Unveiling the Progenitors of Short Gamma-ray Bursts". Information about the award is available from: https://www.aps.org/programs/honors/dissertation/astrophysics.cfm and a short bio for Dr. Fong is available from: https://www.aps.org/programs/honors/prizes/prizerecipient.cfm?last_nm=Fong&first_nm=Wen-fai&year=2016
Prof. Edo Berger has been named one of the winners of the third annual Star Family Challenge for Promising Scientific Research, a faculty research award program established at the suggestion of James A. Star ’83. The Star Family Challenge provides seed funding for high-risk, high-impact projects in the natural and social sciences.
"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.
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.
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...
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.
Abraham “Avi” Loeb, Chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy and C. Meghan Urry, Director of Yale University’s Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, take us on a tour of these remarkable discoveries.
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...
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.
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.
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...