Harvard Astronomy Department

Harvard Astronomy Department News and upcoming events from the Harvard University Astronomy Department
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This is the official page for the Harvard Astronomy Department. News items about faculty, students, and staff will be posted.

Group photo from our annual Astronomy Department picnic
10/06/2019

Group photo from our annual Astronomy Department picnic

Congratulations to the grad students who competed in the Island Run at Spectacle Island today! Pictured from left to rig...
09/21/2019

Congratulations to the grad students who competed in the Island Run at Spectacle Island today! Pictured from left to right: Ioana Zelko, Maurice Wilson, Locke Patton, and Theron Carmichael (winner of the 5 Mile event).

09/10/2019
Breakthrough Prize – Winners Of The 2020 Breakthrough Prize In Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics And Mathematics Announced

Congratulations to the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which was awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for producing the first image of a black hole! The prize is shared by the 347 collaboration members, which include many Harvard faculty, post-docs, students, and alumni.
https://breakthroughprize.org/News/54

A Total of $21.6 Million Awarded for Breakthroughs in Creating the First Image of a Black Hole, Determining the Biological Basis of Obesity, and Discoveries in the Biochemistry of Pain Sensation, Among Other Major Achievements.

With the start of the academic year today, we welcome new faculty member Selma de Mink and her group to the department. ...
09/03/2019
Selma de Mink

With the start of the academic year today, we welcome new faculty member Selma de Mink and her group to the department. Professor de Mink's group focuses on theoretical studies of stars, particularly the evolution of massive stars.
https://astronomy.fas.harvard.edu/people/selma-de-mink

Research Interests: Stellar evolution, Interacting binary stars, Supernovae, Gravitational wave progenitors, Stellar populations, Chemical enrichment and feedback.

The astronomy community will miss José Flores Velázquez, a PhD student at UC Irvine who recently passed away. As an unde...
08/17/2019
Mourning the loss Ph.D. Student José Flores Velázquez | ps.uci.edu

The astronomy community will miss José Flores Velázquez, a PhD student at UC Irvine who recently passed away. As an undergrad, José conducted research at the Banneker-Aztlán Institute summer program here at Harvard in 2016.

He was such a kindhearted person and a brilliant scientist with so much promise in his future. We extend our condolences to his family, friends, and those he knew at the astronomy department at UC Irvine.

https://ps.uci.edu/news/50018

Thu, 08/15/2019 Dear Physical Sciences community, I write with a heavy heart to share that Physics & Astronomy Ph.D. student José Flores Velázquez was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting last night near his family home in Los Angeles. This is a tremendous loss for his family, friends, community...

Harvard PhD student Sebastian Gomez leads a new study describing the discovery of the most massive star known to explode...
08/16/2019
This Enormous Supernova Was Unlike Anything Seen Before

Harvard PhD student Sebastian Gomez leads a new study describing the discovery of the most massive star known to explode in a supernova. This is the best candidate yet for the theorized pair-instability supernova mechanism.
https://gizmodo.com/this-enormous-supernova-was-unlike-anything-seen-before-1837305906

Astronomers have observed a supernova unlike any ever observed before, and it might be strong evidence of an important kind of stellar death that would have shaped early galaxies.

Harvard University is a partner in the Research Exchange, which provides funding for STEM students and postdocs from und...
08/08/2019
Research Exchange – Research wing of the California Alliance

Harvard University is a partner in the Research Exchange, which provides funding for STEM students and postdocs from underrepresented minority groups to undertake short research visits at member institutions.
https://researchexchange.berkeley.edu/

The goal of the Research Exchange is to increase the advancement of diverse PhD students and postdoctoral fellows from participating top tier institutions into the most competitive research and teaching careers.

The Women of Color Project and the Harvard Department of Physics are hosting a workshop October 3-5 on applying for grad...
08/03/2019
thewocproject

The Women of Color Project and the Harvard Department of Physics are hosting a workshop October 3-5 on applying for graduate school in physics, astronomy, and related fields. Go to the "Gradschool Application 101 @ Harvard" link to see how to apply or nominate someone for the workshop.
https://www.thewocproject.com/

07/24/2019
NOVA l PBS

NOVA l PBS

We're going live from the Boston Public Library hosting an amazing panel on our new series, "The Planets."

pbs.org/theplanets
#ThePlanetsPBS

07/13/2019
The Planets I Trailer I NOVA I PBS

Keep an eye out for an appearance by alumna Dr. Anjali Tripathi on "The Planets," a five-part documentary series airing on PBS NOVA starting July 24!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tckZ-bGtHnE

The life of our solar system told in five dramatic stories spanning billions of years. Tune in or stream the five-part series starting July 24, 2019 on PBS.

Photos by third-year graduate student Chani Nava from a recent observing run at the Telescopio Nationale de Galileo at R...
06/18/2019

Photos by third-year graduate student Chani Nava from a recent observing run at the Telescopio Nationale de Galileo at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma, Canary Islands.

Gizmodo writes about new work led by Harvard postdoc Li Zeng.  https://gizmodo.com/water-worlds-could-have-mind-boggling...
04/30/2019
Water Worlds Could Have Mind-Bogglingly Deep Oceans, New Models Suggest

Gizmodo writes about new work led by Harvard postdoc Li Zeng.
https://gizmodo.com/water-worlds-could-have-mind-bogglingly-deep-oceans-ne-1834390409

Scientists have good reason to believe that so-called water worlds—exoplanets with surfaces covered entirely by a single gigantic ocean—are common in the galaxy. But a new computer simulation suggests that not only are water worlds prevalent, they’re also teeming with water—and at mind-boggl...

Our graduate student Theron Carmichael ran the Boston Marathon on Monday. Photos courtesy of fellow graduate students Jo...
04/17/2019

Our graduate student Theron Carmichael ran the Boston Marathon on Monday. Photos courtesy of fellow graduate students John Lewis and Locke Patton. Congratulations Theron!

Local scientists belonging to the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration will be discussing how they made the first image...
04/13/2019
Photographing Black Holes: First Results from the Event Horizon Telescope – Cambridge Science Festival

Local scientists belonging to the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration will be discussing how they made the first image of a black hole at 3:30 pm on April 15 at the Harvard Science Center.
https://www.cambridgesciencefestival.org/event/photographing-black-holes-first-results-from-the-event-horizon-telescope/

« All Events Photographing Black Holes: First Results from the Event Horizon Telescope April 15 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm « Tour Mass General’s Russell Museum and Ether Dome Sci-Art Exhibit: Opening Reception » Hear from the Harvard/MIT/Smithsonian team that is working on taking the first image of a ...

04/10/2019
Harvard University

Harvard University

A global team of astronomers, led by Harvard scientists, have, for the first time, captured an image of a black hole.

Undergraduates taking Astro 100 (Methods of Observational Astronomy) gained some observing experience at Mount Hopkins i...
03/24/2019

Undergraduates taking Astro 100 (Methods of Observational Astronomy) gained some observing experience at Mount Hopkins in Arizona this past week.

Celebrating Pi Day with 291 chocolate digits of π!
03/14/2019

Celebrating Pi Day with 291 chocolate digits of π!

ALMA observations of the protoplanetary disk around the young star AS 209. Learn more about this disk at https://www.eso...
02/23/2019

ALMA observations of the protoplanetary disk around the young star AS 209. Learn more about this disk at https://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1905a/. Image credit: The Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Team (S. M. Andrews et al. 2018).

Smithsonian astrophysicist and Harvard lecturer Sean Andrews talks to Planetary Radio about searching for signatures of ...
02/18/2019
Watching the Births of Solar Systems

Smithsonian astrophysicist and Harvard lecturer Sean Andrews talks to Planetary Radio about searching for signatures of planet formation with the ALMA radio telescope.
http://www.planetary.org/multimedia/planetary-radio/show/2019/0213-2019-sean-andrews-dsharp-protoplanetary.html

Radio telescopes are delivering stunning images that, in some cases, current optical telescopes can’t equal. Witness the 20 beautiful protoplanetary disks imaged by the DSHARP team using the ALMA radio telescope in Chile.

Scientific American writes about recent research led by Harvard graduate student Tarraneh Eftekhari.
02/15/2019
Scientific American

Scientific American writes about recent research led by Harvard graduate student Tarraneh Eftekhari.

Roughly 1.3 billion years ago a star exploded with such force that it was 50 times brighter than the hundred billion stars in its host galaxy combined--a rare class of explosion called a “superluminous” supernovae. But what causes it?

Stop in to the Graduate Lounge on the first floor and take a look at the amazing chalk mural which several of our gradua...
10/04/2018

Stop in to the Graduate Lounge on the first floor and take a look at the amazing chalk mural which several of our graduate students have created on the blackboard there. Photo credit: Sebastian Gomez Lead mural design: Munazza Alam & Nina Maksimova

09/25/2018
Why The Universe May Be Full Of Alien Civilizations

In our first episode of John Michael Godier's Event Horizon, we discuss the possibility of Alien civilizations moving to Galaxy Clusters to make the best use of mass and energy, why making copies of ourselves may be the key to interstellar travel and colonization, the habitability of planets around red dwarf stars such as Proxima Centauri, Black Holes, and so much more with our first guest Harvard Theoretical Physicist Dr. Avi Loeb, the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University. Event Horizon Telescope

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @JMGEventHorizon https://twitter.com/jmgeventhorizon https://www.instagram.com/jmgeventhorizon In our first episode of Joh...

Distinguished astrophysicist, renowned science writer and accomplished academic leader  has been named the 22nd dean of ...
06/26/2018
Ray Jayawardhana named dean of Arts and Sciences | Cornell Chronicle

Distinguished astrophysicist, renowned science writer and accomplished academic leader has been named the 22nd dean of Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences, Provost Michael Kotlikoff announced June 26. He earned a Ph.D. degree in astronomy from Harvard University and his co-advisors were Giovanni Fazio and Lee Hartmann, now at Michigan.

Read More: http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/06/ray-jayawardhana-named-dean-arts-and-sciences

Distinguished astrophysicist, renowned science writer and accomplished academic leader Ray Jayawardhana has been named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He is currently dean of the Faculty of Science at York University in Toronto.

Black Hole Essay CompetitionThe Black Hole Initiative announces awards for original essays on the topic of Black Hole, f...
05/22/2018
BHI Paper Competition!!

Black Hole Essay Competition

The Black Hole Initiative announces awards for original essays on the topic of Black Hole, for more information, https://bhi.fas.harvard.edu/news/bhi-paper-competition

Black Hole Essay Competition The Black Hole Initiative announces awards for original essays on the topic of Black Holes First Prize: $10,000 Second Prize: $5,000

"How do we determine where best to look for planets with detectable biosignatures? To figure out which stars make the op...
04/26/2018
Where Should We Look for Life?

"How do we determine where best to look for planets with detectable biosignatures? To figure out which stars make the optimal targets, Lingam and Loeb suggest an approach based on standard cost-benefit analyses common in economics. Here, what’s being balanced is the cost of an exoplanet survey mission against the benefit of different types of stellar targets."
http://aasnova.org/2018/04/25/where-should-we-look-for-life/

A recent study explores whether Sun-like stars or low-mass M dwarfs are the best target as we search for exoplanets with detectable signatures of life.

Avi Loeb offers his perspective on opening up academia. "Academic freedom is a precious commodity, critical to ensure th...
04/17/2018
Making Academia Matter Again, by Abraham Loeb

Avi Loeb offers his perspective on opening up academia. "Academic freedom is a precious commodity, critical to ensure that discovery of the truth is not encumbered by political or ideological forces. But this does not mean that intellectuals should hide in academic bunkers that, by protecting us from criticism by “non-experts,” allow ego to flourish and enable a focus on questions that are not actually relevant to anyone else. We experts should have to explain ourselves." https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/academia-support-diversity-innovation-by-abraham-loeb-2018-04

Academics can no longer afford to pat themselves on the back and celebrate their own privileges. If they are to defend the freedom of their enterprise, they must restore dialogue with the broader public and ensure that the relevance of their research – and how research actually occurs – is well ...

Avi Loeb has written another great essay,  "Astronomers have recently determined that rare elements such as gold and ura...
03/14/2018
For E.T. Civilizations, Location Could Be Everything

Avi Loeb has written another great essay, "Astronomers have recently determined that rare elements such as gold and uranium are produced as a result of rapid capture of free neutrons during the merger of two neutron stars. Neutron stars are the densest stars known, having the size of a city (12 kilometers) and up to twice the mass of the sun, with the density of an atomic nucleus. A teaspoon of neutron star material weighs a trillion kilograms, as much as a tall mountain on Earth."

Scientific American: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/for-e-t-civilizations-location-could-be-everything/

Their economies and their fate may depend on the abundance of gold and uranium, forged in relatively nearby neutron star mergers  

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