News from the Department (2018)

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January 2018

  • UMD research scientists observed the most dramatic slowdown of a comet's rate of spin. The discovery of comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák's dramatic change in rotation was made by two teams. One of the teams which consisted of research scientists Dennis Bodewits, Tony Farnham, Michael Kelley and Matthew Knight made the discovery on the Swift Gamma-ray Burst Mission which is now known as the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory in tribute of Neil Gehrels work on Swift and in honor of his passing. The second team included assistant research scientist Matthew Knight and was led by Dave Schleicher (M.S. '80, Ph.D. '83, astronomy) using the Discovery channel Telescope. Both teams of scientists were able to measure the rotational period of the comet and discovered that it had slowed an unprecedented amount, from a rotation period of 24 hours to 48 hours over a time interval of just 6 weeks. To find out more about comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak and how these findings will improve our understanding of comets see the CMNS press release. To learn more about Neil Gehrel's contributions to swift and the astronomy field refer to the CMNS press release
  • Research Scientists are celebrating "first light" of a new automated sky survey called the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), based at Caltech's Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California. The new camera will image hundreds of thousands of stars and galaxies in the Northern sky every night and investigate transient events such as supernovae events and active black holes. Some of the scientists who made it possible include Astronomy's Suvi Gezari, Stuart Vogel, Dennis Bodewits and Melissa Hayes-Gehrke; adjunct professors Julie McEnery (Physics) and Brad Cenko (Astronomy) and several others. To find out more on the new survey refer to the CMNS article.
  • Carnegie Observatories Director John Mulchaey (Ph.D '94, astronomy) and Carnegie Embryology Director Yixian Zheng have been selected as interim co-presidents for the Carnegie institution for Science. "For more than two decades, Carnegie has allowed me to grow professionally, not only in terms of my own scientific research, but also by letting me extend my work into the arenas of outreach, public programming, and development," Mulchaey says of the organization that he is proud to be serving. To hear more about the new co-presidents and the Carnegie institution refer to the spaceref article.

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Full news list
Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science & Technology II    Joint Space-Science Center    Two intriguing investigations -- One flight-proven spacecraft    UMd Astronomy-Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Partnership    UMd Astronomy-Cote d'Azur Observatory Scientific Cooperation and Academic Exchange