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.

Learn about the research we do at the Center for Astrophysics and life as an astrophysicist with Astro Chats by YouthAst...
05/11/2020
MicroObservatory

Learn about the research we do at the Center for Astrophysics and life as an astrophysicist with Astro Chats by YouthAstroNet on YouTube! Recent topics include exploding stars, dark energy, and cosmology. You can ask questions on Twitter and Facebook using #AstroChat. https://www.youtube.com/user/MicroObservatory/videos

Congratulations to Professor Lars Hernquist, recently named co-winner of the 2020 Gruber Cosmology Prize for his leaders...
05/06/2020
Lars Hernquist and Volker Springel receive $500,000 Gruber Cosmology Prize

Congratulations to Professor Lars Hernquist, recently named co-winner of the 2020 Gruber Cosmology Prize for his leadership in cosmological simulations.

https://news.yale.edu/2020/05/06/lars-hernquist-and-volker-springel-receive-500000-gruber-cosmology-prize

Together Hernquist and Springel constitute, in the words of one Gruber Prize nominator, “one of the most productive collaborations ever in cosmology.”

05/02/2020

Graduate student Joshua Speagle and alumnus Stephen Portillo (now a postdoctoral fellow at University of Washington) chatted with the American Astronomical Society about their work together on improving techniques for analyzing telescope images.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl8RA1cU_rk

You can explore the universe from the comfort of your own home with the American Astronomical Society's Worldwide Telesc...
04/30/2020
AAS WorldWide Telescope

You can explore the universe from the comfort of your own home with the American Astronomical Society's Worldwide Telescope, which is free for anyone to use. Harvard was one of the founding partners of Worldwide Telescope. http://worldwidetelescope.org/webclient/

AAS Worldwide Telescope is a tool for showcasing astronomical data and knowledge.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, the first woman to be tenured as an astronomy professor at Harvard, is the subject of a new bi...
04/02/2020
Breaking the glass ceiling of 20th-century astronomy

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, the first woman to be tenured as an astronomy professor at Harvard, is the subject of a new biography by Donovan Moore. She discovered that the universe is mostly made of hydrogen. Read the book review from Physics Today:
https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/PT.3.4454

David Weintraub is a professor of astronomy and director of the Communication of Science and Technology Program at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Life on Mars: What to Know Before We Go (2018), Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal With It? (2014), How Old Is the Universe...

Alumnus Ian Czekala (currently a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Berkeley) recently led a study of plan...
03/19/2020
The Strange Orbits of ‘Tatooine’ Planetary Disks - National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Alumnus Ian Czekala (currently a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Berkeley) recently led a study of planet formation around binary star systems, sometimes nicknamed "Tatooine" systems in reference to the most famous fictional planetary system around binary stars.

https://public.nrao.edu/news/the-strange-orbits-of-tatooine-planetary-disks/

Astronomers using ALMA have found striking orbital geometries in protoplanetary disks around binary stars.

While our talk schedule is paused at the moment, consider checking out our YouTube archive of Observatory Night public t...
03/13/2020
Observatory Night | Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics - YouTube

While our talk schedule is paused at the moment, consider checking out our YouTube archive of Observatory Night public talks from professional astronomers on topics ranging from black holes to exoplanets.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2SOU6wwxB0u8E8IVlF5SbDtEoHmFI2DO

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge sponsors free programs for the public on the third Thursday of every month (excluding June, July...

The graduate students celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday with some beautiful homemade cookies and astronomy puns!
02/15/2020

The graduate students celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday with some beautiful homemade cookies and astronomy puns!

02/04/2020
TOI 700 d TESS's First Earth-sized Habitable-Zone Planet w/Dr. Joey Rodriguez/Dr. Andrew Vanderburg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVGGS2xUAks

Alumnus Dr. Andrew Vanderburg (currently at UT Austin) and Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian scientist Dr. Joey Rodriguez (recently a Harvard Future Faculty Leaders Postdoctoral Fellow) chat about the discovery of TOI 700 d, an Earth-sized planet that may be at the right distance from its star to have liquid water (i.e., the "habitable zone").

The three planets of the TOI 700 system orbit a small, cool M dwarf star. TOI 700 d is the first Earth-size habitable-zone world discovered by TESS. Found by...

Harvard postdoctoral fellow Fabio Pacucci has partnered with TEDEd to answer your burning questions about black holes. C...
01/29/2020
Astrophysicist works to make science understandable

Harvard postdoctoral fellow Fabio Pacucci has partnered with TEDEd to answer your burning questions about black holes. Can a black hole be destroyed? What is Stephen Hawking's black hole paradox? Could the Earth be swallowed by a black hole?

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/01/astrophysicist-works-to-make-science-understandable

Harvard’s educational mission is bringing the universe’s strangest creation to the world, as short videos about black holes have been seen by millions.

Alumna Sarah Rugheimer has been selected for the 2020 class of TED Fellows. She will be giving a talk on her research in...
01/24/2020
Meet the 2020 class of TED Fellows and Senior Fellows

Alumna Sarah Rugheimer has been selected for the 2020 class of TED Fellows. She will be giving a talk on her research into searching for signatures of life on other planets at the annual TED conference in April.
https://blog.ted.com/meet-the-2020-class-of-ted-fellows-and-senior-fellows/

The TED Fellows program is excited to announce the new group of TED2020 Fellows and Senior Fellows! This year’s class represents 13 countries across four continents, and they’re making …

01/07/2020
Harvard University

Harvard University

Astronomers at Harvard have discovered a monolithic, wave-shaped gaseous structure — the largest ever seen in our galaxy — made up of interconnected stellar nurseries.

Read more: https://hrvd.me/wave9f

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...

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