Department News

First Class of Astrophysics Majors to Walk at Convocation
June 12, 2019
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At convocation on June 15, nine students will be the first to graduate from the University of Chicago with a major in astrophysics.

UChicago announced the major this past fall. Previously, undergraduate students interested in the subject would major in physics and enroll in elective courses in astrophysics. The new major, however, features a central sequence on major topics in astronomy and astrophysics as well as courses in statistics, computer science, and observational techniques.

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Related:
Department members: Julia Borst Brazas, John E. Carlstrom, Richard G. Kron, Angela V. Olinto

Wayne Hu Receives Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring
June 3, 2019
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Dear Colleagues,

I am most pleased to announce that Wayne Hu has received a Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring. It is particularly noteworthy that nominations for this award are made by our students and alumni.

Please join me in congratulating Wayne.

John Carlstrom,
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Wayne Hu

Congratulations to Dr. Vadim Semenov
May 31, 2019
Dr. Vadim Semenov
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Congratulations to Vadim Semenov for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "How Galaxies Form Stars: the Connection between Local and Global Star Formation in Galaxies".

Vadim has received a position of Hubble Fellow at the Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard University.

Related:
Department members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
Department students: Vadim Semenov

Congratulations to Taylor Hoyt
May 22, 2019
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Please join me in congratulating Taylor Hoyt on his appointment as the 2019 Brinson-Carnegie Graduate Fellow. Taylor is pursuing observational research aimed at improving the measurement of the Hubble Constant.

Congratulations Taylor!

John Carlstrom
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom
Department students: Taylor Hoyt

Congratulations to Rebecca Diesing
May 22, 2019
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Please join me in congratulating Rebecca Diesing on her appointment as the Eugene N. Parker Graduate Student Fellowship. Notably, Rebecca is currently working on a project that hinges on solving the Parker (convection-diffusion) equation for the transport of cosmic rays.

Congratulations Rebecca!

John Carlstrom
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom
Department students: Rebecca Diesing

Congratulations to Philip Mansfield
May 21, 2019
I am most pleased to report that Philip Mansfield has been selected to receive William Rainey Harper Dissertation Fellowships for the 2019-2020 academic year!

The award is one of the University of Chicago's highest honors and is given in recognition of outstanding achievement and professional promise.

Congratulations Phil!

John Carlstrom
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom
Department students: Philip Mansfield

Congratulations to Maya Fishbach
May 21, 2019
I am most pleased to report that Maya Fishbach has been selected to receive William Rainey Harper Dissertation Fellowships for the 2019-2020 academic year!

The award is one of the University of Chicago's highest honors and is given in recognition of outstanding achievement and professional promise.

Congratulations Maya!

John Carlstrom
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom
Department students: Maya Fishbach

Professor Alexei Khokhlov, 1954 - 2019
May 6, 2019
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We are deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague, Professor Alexei Khokhlov, on May 4, 2019. Professor Khokhlov joined our department in 2003, playing a large role in the Flash Center for Computational Science, and he was also a member of the Enrico Fermi Institute. He was a world leader in theoretical and computational astrophysics and reactive flow fluid dynamics. His main research focus was large-scale multi-dimensional numerical simulations of thermonuclear Type Ia supernova explosions. He will be deeply missed by his colleagues, family, and friends.

His obituary can be read here: Alexei M. Khokhlov, theoretical and computational astrophysicist, 1954-2019.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, to please consider making a donation in memory of Alexei Khokhlov to the Baltimore Hope Lodge run by the Cancer Society.

Related:
Department members: Alexei M. Khokhlov

MAROON-X is on its way to Hawaii
April 26, 2019
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MAROON-X has shipped from Chicago and is on its way to Hawaii! In this image department members Andreas Seifahrt and Julian Stuermer can be seen packing the vacuum tank for the spectrograph.

The next step is commissioning on Mauna Kea, which will be begin on May 6.

Fakhri Zahedy has received a prestigious Carnegie Postdoctoral fellowship
April 8, 2019
Fakhri Zahedy has received a prestigious Carnegie Postdoctoral fellowship to start in the fall of 2019. The position is for three years.

The Carnegie Fellowship is intended to encourage long-term research in observational or theoretical astrophysics and/or instrumentation. The fellowships are extremely competitive, and are prized for their independence and for the resources they afford the fellows. Each fellow is key to ehnancing the Carnegie mission and expanding Carnegie's influence of unfettered, imaginative scientific research into the next generations.

Related:
Department members: Hsiao-Wen Chen
Department students: Fakhri Zahedy

Vadim Semenov was selected for the prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP)
April 8, 2019
Vadim will be taking Hubble fellowship to the Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) at Harvard. After 3 years of the Hubble fellowship he will continue there as an ITC fellow, position he was also offered as part of the process.

The program enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development. Each fellowship provides the awardee up to three years of support.

Related:
Department members: Andrey V. Kravtsov
Department students: Vadim Semenov

Donald York has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Service Award for Astronomy
January 13, 2019
Prof. Donald G. York
Dear Colleagues,

Please join me in congratulating Don York who has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Service Award for Astronomy.

The RAS citation reads:
"Professor Donald York, as the Founding Director of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), was a key figure in the conception, design, construction, and initial operation of one of the most successful astronomical facilities of the 21st century. With its first-ever digital image of the entire northern high galactic latitude sky, homogeneously and painstakingly calibrated in a novel photometric system, plus millions of homogeneously obtained spectra, SDSS has touched every subfield of astronomy.

Multiple studies agree that SDSS is the most cited and most impactful facility in ground-based astronomy, or even all astronomy. More than 7,600 papers refer to SDSS in the title or abstract, and these publications have garnered roughly 400,000 citations. Twenty-five of these papers have 1,000 or more citations, and almost 800 have 100 or more citations.

Professor York enabled one of the most significant astronomical projects of our lifetimes, one that benefits the entire international community, and is a truly deserving recipient of the RAS Service Award."

Congratulations Don!

John Carlstrom,
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Donald G. York

Adina Feinstein helped discover a planet, K2-288Bb
January 9, 2019
Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago grad student, helped discover a planet, K2-288Bb, pictured at right in an artist's rendering. It orbits the fainter member of a pair of cool M-type stars every 31.3 days. | Provided/Benjamin Montet; NASA's Goddard Space FlightCenter/Francis Reddy
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"Citizen Scientists Find New World with NASA Telescope", JPL News
Using data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, citizen scientists have discovered a planet roughly twice the size of Earth located within its star's habitable zone, the range of orbital distances where liquid water may exist on the planet's surface. The new world, known as K2-288Bb, could be rocky or could be a gas-rich planet similar to Neptune. Its size is rare among exoplanets - planets beyond our solar system.

"It's a very exciting discovery due to how it was found, its temperate orbit and because planets of this size seem to be relatively uncommon," said Adina Feinstein, a University of Chicago graduate student who discussed the discovery on Monday, Jan. 7, at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle. She is also the lead author of a paper describing the new planet accepted for publication by The Astronomical Journal.

"U of C grad student helps discover a planet", by Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times

"University of Chicago Astronomer Adina Feinstein finds a new planet", by Elifgeriswgnam, wgnradio.com

Related:
Department students: Adina Feinstein

Congratulations to Fei Xu
January 2, 2019
Fei Xu, graduate student
Please join me in congratulating Fei Xu on her receipt of the Elaine K. Bernstein Women in Science Award.

Congratulations Fei!

John Carlstrom,
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom
Department students: Fei Xu

Congratulations to Wayne Hu
January 2, 2019
Prof. Wayne Hu
Please join me in congratulating Wayne Hu on his appointment as the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor.

Congratulations Wayne!

John Carlstrom
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

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Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Wayne Hu

Nancy Grace Roman, "mother" of the Hubble Telescope, dies aged 93
January 2, 2019
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Dear Colleagues,

I am sad to inform you that Nancy Grace Roman died on Christmas Day at the age of 93.

She received her PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics at UChicago in in 1949. Dr. Roman stayed on as a postdoc, instructor, and then joined the faculty as an assistant professor, becoming the first woman on the department's faculty. Not believing the university would tenure her, she left for a position with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC and was then recruited to the newly established NASA, where she served as the Chief of the Astronomy and Relativity Programs in the NASA Office of Space Science.

Dr. Roman had enormous impact on Astronomy and Astrophysics. She is particularly well known for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope and is often referred to as the "Mother of Hubble". Dr. Roman was also a strong advocate for women in the sciences.

As many of you know, the A&A department has decided to name the seminar and instruction room ERC 583 after Nancy Grace Roman to recognize her outstanding scientific career, her extraordinary leadership at NASA, and her decades of work as an advocate for inclusion in science. In her reply to our request to name the room after her, she said she was honored and included, "I hope that naming a room for a woman will encourage your female students. Astronomy needs more diversity."

The plans for renovating ERC 583 are proceeding, including her image on the glass wall and several improvements to the room.

You can learn more about Nancy Grace Roman's life in an article she wrote for ASP "Nancy Roman: An Astronomer's Life" and in a recent UChicago Magazine article "A wider scope".

Sincerely,
John Carlstrom
Chair and Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom

MAROON-X at Gemini-N telescope
December 12, 2018
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Congratulations to Andreas Seifahrt and Julian Stürmer on the installation and first light of the MAROON-X front end unit on the Gemini-N telescope!

Related:
Department members: Jacob L. Bean, Andreas Seifahrt, Julian Stuermer
Scientific projects: MAROON-X: M dwarf Advanced Radial velocity Observer Of Neighboring eXoplanets

Detection of helium in the escaping atmosphere of an exoplanet
December 7, 2018
Artist's impression of the exoplanet HAT-P-11b and its host star. [Harvard Center for Astrophysics/D. Aguilar]
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University of Chicago astronomers Megan Mansfield and Jacob Bean present observations of the escaping atmosphere of a Neptune-size exoplanet.

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Related:
Department members: Jacob L. Bean

Response to Claims On Gender and Physics
October 13, 2018
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We reject the recent claims on gender and physics by Alessandro Strumia. Our Departments and Institute believe that diversity is essential to the health of our fields and to advancing our science. We reaffirm our commitment to making our communities more diverse and to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment. All the members of a community share the responsibility for its climate, and so we welcome suggestions on how to improve ours.

John E. Carlstrom, Chair, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Young-Kee Kim, Chair, Department of Physics
Michael S. Turner, Director, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics

UChicago now offers major in astrophysics
October 2, 2018
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Scientists at the University of Chicago have been unraveling the secrets of the far-flung universe for more than a century, but starting in 2018-19, undergraduates will be able to formally declare a major in astrophysics.

"I am thrilled to see the astrophysics major come to fruition and the interest that it has already generated," said Angela Olinto, the Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics and dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences. "We know our students are proud of the department's incredible legacy in the field, and we are delighted to deepen that connection with a formal major."

Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professorships Announced in Astronomy & Astrophysics
October 1, 2018
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The Physical Sciences Division at the University of Chicago, in partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation and the Office of the Provost, has named the first Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professors: Chihway Chang and Irina Zhuravleva of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

"We are delighted to name Chihway Chang and Irina Zhuravleva as Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professors," said John Carlstrom, chair of the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics. "They are science communicators and researchers of the highest caliber and will contribute their unique and complementary strengths to the department."

Related:
Department members: Chihway Chang, Irina Zhuravleva

Josh Frieman became President Elect of the Aspen Center for Physics
August 27, 2018
Prof. Josh Frieman
Prof. Josh Frieman recently became President Elect of the Aspen Center for Physics. In a year's time, Josh will become President of the Center for a three-year term. The Aspen Center for Physics is well known for hosting cutting-edge, multi-week workshops in the summer and intensive one-week conferences in winter. Typically, 500-600 physicists visit every summer, for workshops, for smaller working groups, and to carry out individual research in a unique setting.

Related:
Department members: Joshua A. Frieman

Cosmic rays help supernovae shape galaxies
August 6, 2018
A&A grad student Rebecca Diesing and her advisor, Prof. Damiano Caprioli, have published a paper about how cosmic rays help supernovae shape galaxies. A summary is below and the paper can be found here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1804.09731

"Supernova explosions play a significant role in the formation and evolution of galaxies by injecting energy and momentum into the interstellar medium. However, the momentum yields predicted for single explosions are not enough to produce simulated galaxies that are consistent with observations. The cosmic rays accelerated by supernova remnants may solve this problem. We find that pressure from cosmic rays helps supernova remnants survive longer, allowing them to deposit two to five times more momentum in the interstellar medium."

Congratulations to Brad Benson
July 26, 2018
Bradford A. Benson
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Please join me in congratulating Brad Benson on his promotion from Associate Scientist to Scientist at Fermilab. The Scientist appointment is parallel to that of an Associate Professor with tenure at a university.

Congratulations Brad!

- John E. Carlstrom
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: Bradford A. Benson, John E. Carlstrom

Congratulations to Mike Gladders
July 25, 2018
Prof. Michael D. Gladders
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Please join me in congratulating Mike Gladders on his promotion to the rank of Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Congratulations Mike!

- John E. Carlstrom
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Michael D. Gladders

Congratulations to Dr. Ross Cawthon
July 18, 2018
Dr. Ross Cawthon
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Congratulations to Ross Cawthon for successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation on "Effects of Redshift Uncertainty on Cross-Correlations of CMB Lensing and Galaxy Surveys".

Ross has received a position of Research Associate at the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Related:
Department members: Joshua A. Frieman
Department students: Ross Cawthon
Scientific projects: Dark Energy Survey, South Pole Telescope

Congratulations to Irina Zhuravleva
June 28, 2018
Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to report that Irina Zhuravleva will join the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics as an Assistant Professor starting October 1, 2018.

- John E. Carlstrom
Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor and Chair Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

Related:
Department members: John E. Carlstrom, Irina Zhuravleva

Honoring Rocky Kolb for his service as Dean of the Physical Sciences
June 27, 2018
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President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Daniel Diermeier hosted a reception honoring Rocky Kolb for his service as Dean of the Physical Sciences Division. Friends, colleagues, and family all celebrated his many successes and wished him well as he returns to being a full-time faculty member at the Department.

Related:
Department members: Edward ''Rocky'' W. Kolb