Professors Anne Verbiscer and Michael Skrutskie are co-authors on the recent Nature paper announcing the discovery of the true extent of Saturn's outermost ring. Prof. Verbiscer and Prof. Skrutskie discovered this ring, the so-called Pheobe ring, in 2009 using the Spitzer Space Telescope. In the Nature article published earlier this month, they used data from the NASA Wide-field Infrared Space Explorer to find that the Pheobe ring extends out to a remarkable distance of 270 Saturn-radii from Saturn, making it the largest known planetary ring in the Solar System.
University of Virginia astronomer Dr. Mike Skrutskie and former UVA Ph.D. student Dr. Jarron Leisenring used the Large Binocular Telescope to make landmark observations of a giant lava lake on Jupiter's moon Io. Details on the observations and what they found are in this UVAToday article.
Graduate Student Sandra Liss was the Departmental Award Winner in this year's Graduate Teaching Awards Competition for her dedication to teaching in the Department of Astronomy. This award, from the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs, in collaboration with the University's Teaching Resource Center, recognizes the university's best graduate student teachers and carries an honorarium.
Professor Kelsey Johnson's research on the ALMA detection of birthplaces of soon-to-be globular clusters was featured in a press release article in the Washington Post. Check out the article, "This cosmic 'dinosaur egg' is about to hatch" on the Washington Post website.
Undergraduate Tracy Esman is the recipient of the department's Limber Award, which recognizes the most outstanding Astrophysics graduate each year in terms of research and academics. She did her thesis with Anne Verbiscer on the Martian atmosphere, and will be attending the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab for graduate school.
Undergraduate Avery Bailey is the recipient of the department's Vyssotsky Prize, which recognizes an outstanding third year Astrophysics major. It comes with $1000 for research-related travel. Avery has been working with Craig Sarazin on analyzing XMM-Newton X-ray data on the merging cluster Abell 2061.