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AST Faculty Joel Kastner will be a discussion leader at Gordon Conference

June 18, 2017

Joel Kastner will be a Discussion Leader at next week's Gordon Conference on Origins of Solar Systems Titled:  "Making a Habitable Planet"
The Gordon Conference on Origins of Solar Systems brings together a diverse group of scientists to discuss research at the frontier of understanding how planets and planetary systems form. Invited speakers from the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, cosmochemistry, planetary science, and geochemistry will present their latest findings. At this meeting discussions will take place with a focus on how the Earth and its analogs received their inventory of volatile compounds that provide the basis for a habitable world.

AST Faculty Michael Zemcov successful integration & test at NASA Wallops Flight Facility

April 11, 2017

AST Faculty Michael Zemcov took CSTARS, the undergraduate student-lead star tracking camera, to NASA Wallops Flight Facility in VA for integration and test.  The group successfully integrated the instrument into the payload and took images of simulated stars at cryogenic temperatures at optical wavelengths, which is a first.  Unfortunately they ran into trouble with the electronics and had to come off the mission, but we’re almost ready to fly. 

AST Graduate Student Kristina Punzi accepted into the AAS Astronomy Ambassadors Program

January 9, 2017

Kristina Punzi, current AST PhD student, was  accepted into the AAS Astronomy Ambassadors program ( She was inducted at the 229th AAS meeting (January 2-3, 2017). 

Kristina presented at the 229th American Astronomical Society meeting in Grapevine, TX this past week (January 3-7, 2017). The title of her talk was: "An X-ray and Optical Spectroscopic Study of the Perplexing Star RZ Piscium." The undergraduate students she mentored during the 2016 summer REU  (Lydia Gingerich - Haverford College, Tori Knapp - Ithaca College)  presented a poster entitled: "The Evolutionary Status of the Enigmatic Field Star RZ Piscium: A Search for Comoving Companions." She was also interviewed by Astronomy Magazine about my research. 

Mauela Campanelli presents: Black Hole Mergers, Gravitational Waves and their Gaseous Environments

October 7, 2016

Manuela Campanelli, AST Faculty and director of the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation, presented "Black Hole Mergers, Gravitational Waves and their Gaseous Environments" at the Gruber Cosmology Conference at Yale University on Oct. 7 in celebration of the Gruber Cosmology Prize presented in July to Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, Ronald Drever and the entire LIGO team, including members of Campanelli's center, for the first detection of gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes. Link

AST Students & Faculty Present a the Hidden Monsters Workshop

August 8, 2016

SoPA faculty members Jeyhan Kartaltepe, Billy Vazquez and Andy Robinson, along with Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Ph.D. students Triana Almeyda and Yashashree Jadhav, presented some of their latest research at a Workshop on supermassive black holes in galaxies, “Hidden Monsters: Obscured Active Galactic Nuclei and Connections to Galaxy Evolution". Drs Robinson and Vazquez presented talks on a large observational campaign using the Spitzer Space Telescope to map the interstellar dust distribution in active galactic nuclei, while 4th-year PhD student Almeyda presented a poster on her computer simulations of time-varying infrared emission from the dust. Second-year PhD student Jadhav presented a poster on the first results from her project, which uses Hubble Space Telescope images to search for recoiling supermassive black holes in nearby galaxies. Dr Kartaltepe presented a talk on near infrared spectroscopic observations, obtained with the Subaru and Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, of distant galaxies hosting obscured active nuclei.

The workshop was hosted by Dartmouth College, in Hanover, NH, USA, 8th-12th August 2016. 

From Left: Astrophysical Sciences and Technology PhD students Triana Almeyda and Yashashree Jadhav , at the "Hidden Monsters” workshop.

Dave Principe AST Alumni is coauthor of a new paper that has just appeared in Nature

July 13, 2016

Dave Principe, AST Alumni, is coauthor of a new paper in Nature. The paper concerns the detection of the so-called "snow line" in a planet-forming disk orbiting a very young (less than 1 million year old) star, using the powerful new Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). The "snow line" is thought to mark the position in a disk where coatings of volatile ices (CO, CO2, methanol, etc) can form on dust grains, setting the stage for the buildup of the icy cores of Jupiter-like planets.

AST Faculty & Graduate Student mentor RIT undergraduates building star-tracking instrument for NASA research rockets

August 10, 2016

Rochester Institute of Technology undergraduates are making a “compass” for rockets using a new kind of detector technology. The instrument will fly on a NASA technology demonstration mission later this year. The team’s mentors are Zemcov; Dorian Patru, professor of electrical engineering; and Chi Nguyen, a Ph.D. student from Vietnam in the astrophysical sciences and technology graduate program.

The student team is designing, building—and deploying—a telescope and camera that will orient the rocket payload based on the images of stars. RIT’s Cryogenic Star Tracking Attitude Regulation System is funded by a $200,000 grant from NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Project Flight Research Opportunity program. The NASA program is designed to give undergraduates experience developing and flying experiments relevant to NASA’s mission. Full Article

AST Faculty create new method for identifying black holes Techniques connect solutions to Einstein’s equations directly with observations

June 29, 2016

Rochester Institute of Technology professors have developed a faster, more accurate way to assess gravitational wave signals and infer the astronomical sources that made them. Their method directly compares data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory to cutting-edge numerical simulations of binary black holes, including simulations performed at RIT.

In a paper available online, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration reanalyzed the first gravitational wave detections using this method. Insights from these simulations indicate that the first detected black holes were slightly more similar in mass than previously thought. RIT authors on the paper include faculty Richard O’Shaughnessy, Manuela Campanelli, Carlos Lousto, John Whelan and Yosef Zlochower; postdoctoral researcher James Healy; graduate students Jacob Lange and Yuanhao Zhang; and undergraduate student Monica Rizzo and recent graduate Jackson Henry. They are all members of RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration... Full Article