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AST News

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]

RIT professor shares black-hole research at supercomputing conference

November 2015
RIT professor shares black-hole research at supercomputing conference Nov. 18: Manuela Campanelli gives invited talk at SC 2015
Campanelli, director of the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation at RIT, will present “Revealing the Hidden Universe with Supercomputer Simulations of Black Hole Mergers” on Nov. 18. She will share recent developments in the field of numerical relativity and relativistic astrophysics.

AST Faculty Andy Robinson and AST Phd Students presented at Torus 2015 Workshop

September 14, 2015

Dr. Andy Robinson, recent AST graduate Dr. Davide Lena and current AST Ph.D. student Triana Almeyda presented results from several research projects at the Torus 2015 Workshop, hosted by the University of Southhampton in Winchester, UK, September 14 - 17. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss recent progress in understanding the so-called "dusty molecular torus", that surrounds the central supermassive back holes in active galactic nuclei. Triana was selected to give an oral presentation on her work developing computer simulations of the time-dependent response of the infrared dust emission from the torus to variations in the AGN luminosity. Dr. Robinson’s team also presented posters based on three recent publications, led by Dr. Lena (, AST Ph.D. student Billy Vazquez ( and former post-doc Dr. Dinalva Sales ( 

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. 

AST Faculty Joel Kastner and his former AST PhD student Rudy Montez paper selected as High Impact

August 2015
Of the 15 papers selected as high impact research publications in the focus areas of the forthcoming International Astronomical Union General Assembly, two were led by members or graduates of AST.
One by Joel Kastner and his former AST PhD student Rudy Montez (2010):
J. H. Kastner, R. Montez Jr., B. Balick et al. 2012 ,The Astronomical Journal 144 58
The other by AST PhD graduate Fabio Antonini (2011, advised by David Merritt):
Fabio Antonini, 2013, ApJ 763 62

Summer 2015 Astrophysical Sciences & Technology Ph.D. Dissertation Defenses:

August 2015
Astrophysical Sciences & Technology Ph.D. Dissertation Defenses: 
Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. Carlson Center 76-1125
Friday, August 7, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. Carlson Center 76-1125
Monday, August 10, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Carlson Center 76-1125

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. 

Archived News

April 2015: RIT PhD student Valerie Rapson and RIT Faculty Joel Kastner’s research was highlighted on the front page of the Gemini Observatory’s website and in the article titled Star Pair’s Dusty Disk Shines Light on Planet Formation on April 2, 2015.  
Feb. 2015: Celebrating 100 years of General Relativity, WebsEdge produced a video featuring RIT's Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation
Feb. 2015: General Relativity turns 100; Astrophysicist Manuela Campanelli puts Einstein in context in AAAS talkRIT professor’s career shaped by Einstein’s theory
Feb. 2015: RIT Faculty Sukanya Chakrabarti published a paper announcing the discovery of clustered Cepheid variables that mark the location of a dwarf galaxy she had predicted several years ago.The discovery was widely covered by the media: by NBC NewsScientific AmericanSky and Telescope
Jan. 2015: RIT AST Graduate Students, AST Faculty & Alumni presented at the American Astronomical Society’s January 2015 Conference RIT Schedule of Presentations
Jan. 2015: Alexander Rasskazov, a graduate student in astrophysics (advisor D. Merritt), delivered a talk at the meeting “Black Holes in Dense Star Clusters” at the Aspen Center for Physics in Aspen, CO. The title of the talk was “Dynamical Evolution of a Supermassive Binary in a Rotating Galactic Nucleus”
Oct. 2014: David Principe RIT PhD graduate has won a prestegious FONDECYT fellowship in Chile 
June 24, 2014: Inaugural RIT AST PhD recipient Rudy Montez is one of the invited speakers at the "15 Years of Science with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory" symposium
April 2014: AST PhD graduate Grant Tremblay has been selected for one of the 12 Einstein Fellowships awarded in 2014. The list of 2014 Einstein Fellows is available here:
April 28, 2014:  Astrophysical Sciences & Technology Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: David Principe 
Dec. 16, 2013: 2013-14 NYSG/AST Graduate Student Fellowships awarded to Dennis Bowen, Ian Ruchlin and Dmitry Vorobiev. 
March 18, 2013: RIT Astrophysics Students Explore the Solar System at the Harley School
Feb. 15, 2013: RIT scientists comment on meteor explosion
Jan. 9, 2013: NASA awards RIT $1.1 million to develop infrared detectors for space missions
Dec 10, 2012: Supermassive Black Hole Powers 'Beautiful' Jets in 'Hercules A' Galaxy
Nov 12, 2012: AST Student Wins Time with Two NASA Observatories
Oct 10, 2012: X-ray Imaging Survey of Dying Stars is `Uncharted Territory'
Sept 17, 2012: CCRG and NTID collaborate on astrophysics inspired dance piece
July 26, 2012: RIT Leads Development of Next-generation Infrared Detectors
July 3, 2012: A Young Star Flaunts its X-ray Spots in McNeil's Nebula
Nov 21, 2011: First grads get feet wet as scientists
Nov 10, 2011: Student wins prestigious NASA fellowship; spends fall at Goddard Space Flight Center
Nov 2, 2011: Mysterious Absorption Lines Could Illuminate 90-year Puzzle
Sept 2011: RIT's New "Star" Researcher
Sept 7, 2011: Carving out a science career one post-doctoral fellowship at a time
May 20, 2011: First Two AST PhD's "hooded"
Apr 26, 2011: RIT Astrophysicist Wins Prestigious Fellowship
Nov 29, 2010: First PhD in Astrophysical Sciences & Technology wins award
Nov 17, 2010: Pushing Black-Hole Mergers to the Extreme
    (see also 'David and Goliath' Black Hole Clashes Analyzed)
Nov 15, 2010: Scientists Use Light Signatures to Track Merging Supermassive Black Holes
    (see also Black Holes Merge With a Flash of Light)
Sep 15, 2010: RIT astronomers discover cannibal star 
July 26, 2010: AST students win best presentation awards at 2010 Graduate Research Symposium 
July 22, 2010: RIT professor develops planet-hunting technology for NASA 
May 25, 2010: Hubble Research Reveals "Wandering" Black Hole 
May 1, 2010: New Wave Astronomy YouTube video
Jan 27, 2010: A Massive Star is Born: RIT astronomer peers into stellar nursery
Dec 8, 2009: RIT Astronomer Mines Spitzer Space Telescope Data for Massive Starbursts
Dec 3, 2009: RIT Professor Recognized by the American Physical Society
Oct 19, 2009: RIT Scientists Use Supercomputers to 'See' Black Holes
Oct 8, 2009: Youtube Video of RIDL on The History Channel (part 2) (part 3) (part 4)
Aug 27, 2009: RIDL Student Kim Kolb Awarded Prestigious BAE Fellowship
Aug 20, 2009: RIT Contributes to Research Probing Gravitational Echoes after the Big Bang