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AST News

AST Faculty Richard O'Shaughnessy predicts a universe crowded with black holes, co-author of paper in ‘Nature’

June 22, 2016
A new study published in Nature presents one of the most complete models of matter in the universe and predicts hundreds of massive black hole mergers each year observable with the second generation of gravitational wave detectors. The model anticipated the massive black holes observed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. The two colliding masses created the first directly detected gravitational waves and confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
AST Faculty Richard O'Shaughnessy featured in Forbes, National Geographic, Physicsworld & Redorbit articles. 

AST Faculty help identify, analyze gravitational waves, properties of the final black hole, New gravitational waves observed from second pair of black holes

June 15, 2016

Gravitational waves from a second pair of colliding black holes has validated the landmark discovery from earlier this year that confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Rochester Institute of Technology scientists contributed to the initial breakthrough and to the second discovery announced Wednesday by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory.

The second gravitational wave was observed by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration on Dec. 26, 2015, toward the end of the first science run of the Advanced LIGO detectors. The findings, which will appear in the journal Physical Review Letters, validate the new field of gravitational wave astronomy and reveal diversity of size and spin among black holes in the universe.

Full Article: 


Smaller stars pack big X-ray punch for developing planets,AST Faculty leads study

June 13, 2016
Young stars much less massive than the sun can unleash a torrent of X-ray radiation that can significantly shorten the lifetime of planet-forming disks surrounding these stars. This result comes from a new study of a group of nearby stars using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes. Rochester Institute of Technology astronomer Joel Kastner led the study.

RIT on TV: RIT Alumna Valerie Rapson encourages women in STEM - on WNYT

September, 2015
Valerie Rapson a PhD graduate of the AST Program at RIT now leads outreach efforts at the Dudley Observatory in Schenectady, NY.
Her goal is to provide hands-on experience for students - especially female and minority students - in the hope that more will be engaged and pursue education and careers in the sciences. 

RIT AST Faculty and Physics undergraduate student present at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil

April 1, 2015

Physics sophomore Luke Shadler accompanied Dr. Andy Robinson to spend a week visiting the Astrophysicsresearch group at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil, during April. Dr. Robinson and recent AST Ph.D. graduate Dr. Davide Lena are working with Dr. Thaisa Storchi-Bergmann and her group at UFRGS on a joint project to map gas flows around supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei, using observations made with the Gemini North and South Telescopes on Mauna Kea Hawaii, and Cerro Pachon, Chile, respectively. Luke began been working with Dr. Robinson  during his freshman year, using a sophisticated computer program to model the structure and velocity field of the gas flows for comparison with the observations. His work expertise with this program so impressed Dr. Storchi-Bergmann that he was personally invited to UFRGS, to provide hands-on training for her graduate students in the use of this software. 

2015 AST Ph.D. graduate finds evidence for a newborn planet around a nearby, young star

January, 2016
This work was directly motivated by Valerie’s Ph.D. dissertation project, in which she obtained very similar Gemini Planet Imager results for another nearby, young star (V4046 Sgr).
Observations from the Gemini Planet Imager confirm the presence of a gap in the dusty disk surrounding the nearby star TW Hydrae. Click for a full view! [Adapted from Rapson et al. 2015]

AST Faculty & Student participate in Evan Dawson's Monthly Science Roundtable

Feb. 1, 2016

RIT's Senior Lecturer Brian Koberlein, Professor Michael Richmond, and Ph.D. student Kevin Cooke join radio host Evan Dawson's Monthly Science Roundtable for adiscussion about a possible Planet Nine beyond the orbit of Pluto. The evidence for the claim as well as possible problems with the evidence are examined as they take questions from the audience about the claim and planetary science.

RIT scientists have long reached for the stars

April 11, 2016

Four AST program faculty and their research team contributed to LIGO’s breakthrough discovery, which detected signals emitted from a black-hole collision 1.3 billion light years away. RIT’s LIGO team is preparing for the first-ever black-hole census when LIGO begins its second operational run this summer. Full Article

From Left: Carlos Lousto, Richard O'Shaughnessy, Manuela Campanelli & John Whelan.