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
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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
A team of astronomers, including Jonathan Tan of Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden and the University of Virginia, are using NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to study the births of massive stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. “Understanding the birth process of massive stars is one of the most important unsolved problems of modern astrophysics, since these stars are so influential throughout our galaxy and beyond.” says Tan.
Dr. John Wilson, a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Astronomy, is the recipient of the 2017 Maria and Eric Muhlmann award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. This award recognizes recent significant observational results made possible by innovative advances in astronomical instrumentation, software, or observational infrastructure and is one of the few in the astronomical world focused on instrumentation.
After 20 years in space, and 13 years orbiting the planet Saturn, the Cassini mission is coming to an end. University of Virginia planetary astronomer Anne Verbiscer, a participating scientist with the mission, is attending this week's end-of-mission celebration at the California Institute of Technology, near NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is enjoying the final ride with hundreds of fellow Cassini scientists.
Professor Trinh Thuan and colleagues recently discovered a dwarf galaxy in the constellation Lynx that is so oxygen-deficient that may serve well as a proxy for better understanding the developing chemistry of the early universe.
News & Announcements
July 20, 2021
We are now accepting applications for the Online Girls Exploring the Universe (GETU) camp. This program offers an astronomy focused experience for middle school-aged kids primarily in Albemarle... Read»
July 14, 2021
The Owens Family Foundation has selected Nitya Kallivayalil as a recipient of their funding in the amount of $84,000 per year over a three year period. This gift will be used to further her... Read»