Department News: 2019
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
Click on the image to enlarge
"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

Read more

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

Nancy Grace Roman, "mother" of the Hubble Telescope, dies aged 93
January 2, 2019
Click on the image to enlarge
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