An international group of astronomers, including Jonathan Tan from the University of Virginia, have made observations of a molecular cloud that is collapsing to form two massive protostars that will eventually become a binary star system. The observations showed that, even at this early stage, the cloud contains two objects: a massive “primary” central star and another “secondary” forming star, with a combined mass of at least 18 times that of our Sun. For the first time, the researchers were able to use these observations to deduce the dynamics of the system.
Star Formation At Virginia
Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) at Virginia
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Late Sunday night into early Monday morning, the moon will “go from full, to nearly disappearing, to being full again in the course of a few hours,” University of Virginia astronomy professor Ed Murphy said. Learn more at this UVA Today Article.
Astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) reached the conclusion that after a “lazy” start of star formation for the first few billion years of their lives, both the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are now forming new stars at a rapid rate. They made the first-ever detailed chemical maps of galaxies beyond our own.
This Hubble image taken by University of Virginia astronomer Craig Sarazin of the nearby elliptical galaxy Messier 105 (also called NGC 3379) is currently the Hubble Space Telescope Picture of the Week (January 7 - 11).
Anne Verbiscer, Research Professor in Astronomy, is the Assistant Project Scientist for NASA’s New Horizons Mission, which flew by Ultima Thule on January 1, producing the picture shown above. Ultima Thule is the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft. Verbiscer was interviewed for the NOVA TV program which aired the following night. She said: "When I first saw the images, I think I probably said ‘wow’ a million times.” The NOVA program is available at
University of Virginia astronomers Mike Skrutskie and Anne Verbiscer led a group of undergraduate UVA students to Sénégal to participate in a campaign to observe the occultation of a distant star by the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule. Ultima Thule is the target of a flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft on January 1, 2019. The occultation can reveal details about Ultima Thule, such as its diameter and may reveal whether it is surrounded by a ring or moons.
UVA astronomer Nitya Kallivayalil was interviewed on German public radio about the very rapid prepartion and submission of papers just after the second data release from the European Space Agency's Gaia mission. Kallivayalil's paper featured the discovery of satellite galaxies that are falling into the Milky Way with the Magellanic Clouds (http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1805.01448). The paper was submitted within a week of the data release!
The Virginia Initiative on Cosmic Origins (VICO) officially began operations on May 1st. VICO is an interdisciplinary research program focussed on the formation of stars, planets and life in the Universe and supported by $1 million from UVa’s Strategic Investment Fund. Led by Prof. Eric Herbst, VICO brings together faculty from the Depts. of Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Sciences, and Materials Science & Engineering, as well as the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
Incoming University of Virginia astronomy faculty member Ilse Cleeves has been awarded the Annie Jump Cannon Award of the American Astronomical Society for "her groundbreaking work on planet formation and protoplanetary disks. She has established herself as an expert in astrochemical signatures in circumstellar disks."
Read more about the Annie Jump Cannon Award
News & Announcements
March 18, 2019
An international group of astronomers, including Jonathan Tan from the University of Virginia, have made observations of a molecular cloud that is collapsing to form two massive... Read»
January 30, 2019
The Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards are given to recognize exemplary research by undergraduate and graduate students who present at one of the poster sessions at the... Read»