News from the Department (2023)

Department of Astronomy RSS Feed

May 2023

  • The big news this week is in commencement activities to celebrate our new graduating students! Congratulations to all of our 2023 graduates, undergrads and PhDs! College commencements are Monday (grad students) and Tuesday (undergrads). Congratulations to all graduating students!

  • In rumors of the JWST Cycle 2 awards in the Department...
    • Ell Bogart is the PI of a JWST Cycle 2 General Observer Program, with Co-PI Joshua Schlieder at NASA Goddard. This is a high-contrast imaging program with NIRCam to follow up an intriguing exoplanet candidate they discovered in Cycle 1. The candidate has a projected separation of ~90 AU from a M dwarf, and if confirmed, it would be the lowest mass exoplanet ever directly imaged! This follows on work started for their second-year project.
    • Sylvain Veilleux's medium-size proposal on ULIRG winds was approved to follow up on his team's Spitzer and Herschel studies of these objects.
    I imagine there are other awards I haven't heard about yet -- please let us all know! The competition was stiff, with an oversubscription of 7.1.

  • Mike Kelley's Nature paper titled "Spectroscopic identification of water emission from a main-belt comet" was published last week. Key takeaways from the abstract are:
    Although the existence of main-belt comets implies the presence of extant water ice in the asteroid belt, no gas has been detected around these objects despite intense scrutiny with the world's largest telescopes. Here, we present JWST observations which clearly show that main-belt comet 238P/Read has a coma of water vapour, but lacks a significant CO2 gas coma. Our findings demonstrate that the activity of comet Read is driven by water-ice sublimation, and implies that main-belt comets are fundamentally different from the general cometary population.
    CMNS and then the Research News picked this up with this press release. Congratulations to Mike for this fundamental new result from JWST!
    Speaking of Mike Kelley and new results, Mike will be one of the presenters at tonight's (22 May) Astronomy on Tap DC, with his talk "Why do these asteroids look like comets?" He'll likely talk about some fantastic JWST observations of a certain asteroidal comet. May 22, 8-11 pm, at the DC9 Nightclub, 1940 9th Street NW, DC. (ps: The June S&T has a long article about "active asteroids" as well.)

  • Congratulations to DeOndre Kittrell, who has been completing a postbac through PHASER at Goddard for the last two years and is a prior GRAD-MAP participant. DeOndre will be attending the New Jersey Institute of Technology for graduate school starting in the Fall.

  • Joe DeMartini has been awarded a Chateaubriand Fellowship to spend 9 months in France -- congratulations, Joe!

  • Our colleague Christine Hartzell, associate professor of aerospace engineering and director of the Planetary Surfaces and Spacecraft Lab, has been selected to join the Science Working Team for the Martian Moons eXplorer Mission, which is sending a spacecraft to Phobos-one of two moons that orbit Mars-with a launch planned in 2024. Hartzell is among ten U.S. scientists tapped by NASA for the mission.

  • College Park Scholars has announced that the Science, Discovery and the Universe (SDU) Scholars program will close at the end of this academic year. The decision was made by mutual agreement between College Park Scholars, the Department of Astronomy, and CMNS. For a nice appreciation and more details see the College Park Scholars announcement.

  • Congratulations to our former grad student Amy Steele, who will become the Director of Astronomy and Research at Yerkes Observatory in June. Amy has big ideas and plans for the Observatory and is truly looking forward to seeing what she'll accomplish! The Lake Geneva Regional News has a wonderful article about Amy, the position, and the observatory.

  • On behalf of the Awards committee of last year's winners (Milena Crnogorčević, Erica Harrison, Chris Hunt, Mike Kelley, Eliza Kempton, and Cole Miller) I'm very pleased to announce this year's departmental awards:
    • Postdoctoral Scientist Prize for Excellence - Igor Andrioni, for his scientific work, generous help and advice, and co-running Hot Papers
    • Distinguished Research Scientist Prize - Ian Richardson, for his scientific work, excellence in manuscript review, and mentorship
    • Technical Professional Staff Prize for Excellence - Anne Raugh, for her work with PDS4 and New Horizons
    • Distinguished Faculty Teaching Prize - Cole Miller, for inspiring and supporting his students
    • Administrative Professional Staff Prize for Excellence - Mona Susanto, for her deep and generous expertise in all things grants and budgets
    • Prize for Excellence in Mentoring - Massimo Ricotti, for being a caring and perceptive advisor
    • Departmental Service Award - two prizes, including our first-ever combined prize
      • Erica Hammerstein, for her contributions to Department, College, and University committees
      • Serena Cronin, Isiah Holt, and Ramsey Karim, for helping bring the Department back together with ACE coffees
    Congratulations and many thanks to all of the winners for making the Department a better place! There are plenty of deserving people, and it's never too early to nominate someone for next year's awards at this link (you can also find it from our Department web pages: Resources/Internal/Department Awards).

  • Eliza Kempton led a Nature paper titled "A reflective, metal-rich atmosphere for GJ 1214b from its JWST phase curve" that garnered substantial attention last week. Eliza, together with UMD coauthors Jegug Ih, Arjun Savel, Kenneth Arnold, Matthew Nixon, and Matej Malik -- plus a bunch of others on the observational side -- measured the light emitted by a sub-Neptune planet's atmosphere for the first time. With JWST data they discovered that GJ 1214 -- an exoplanet about 40 light-years away from Earth -- likely contains water vapor and is primarily composed of molecules heavier than hydrogen.
    CMNS prepared with a news release which was also linked by the week's research summary from the VPR's office. Even more fun, Eliza was interviewed by NPR's Morning Edition, and the story was doubtless picked up elsewhere. Congratulations to the entire team and Eliza in particular!

  • Mike Kelley will be one of the presenters at the next Astronomy on Tap DC, with his talk "Why do these asteroids look like comets?" He might even talk about some fantastic JWST observations of a certain asteroidal comet, if his paper is out by then, which is likely. May 22, 8-11 pm, at the DC9 Nightclub, 1940 9th Street NW, DC. (ps: The June S&T has a long article about "active asteroids" as well.)

  • C.J. Turner, A.I. Harris, T.E. Murphy and M. Stephen, "Nonlinear Power Response in Heterodyne Photonic Radiometers for Microwave Remote Sensing," in IEEE Photonics Technology Letters. This paper is part of Charles Turner's ECE PhD thesis work, exploring the different nonlinear responses of electro-optical modulators to continuous wave and broadband noise signals.

  • MD Day 25 yr logoMany thanks to Andres Ardon, Tilden Barnes, Cecilia Chirenti, Jordan Ealy, Tony Farnham, Austen Fourkas, Fred Garcia, Josh Garfinkel, Thomas Griffith, Tobi Hammond, Melissa Hayes-Gehrke, Erika Hoffman, Ben Hord, Brooke Kaluzienski, Tad Komacek, Peter Kozlov, Katya Leidig, Madeline Lessard, Siobhan Light, Satvik Manjigani, Lauren Miles, Cole Miller, Joao Pereira, Kevin Rauch, Sebastian Rivera-Munoz, Vicente Villanueva Llanos, Kanaparthy Yugadeep, Abdu Zoghbi, and doubtless others I've missed, for putting on such a fine experience at Maryland Day! Next year we hope for drier feet, and maybe fewer problems from the purple line construction! Special thanks to Elizabeth Warner for organizing yet another great Maryland Day.

  • Congratulations to Alex Dittmann, who has been selected to receive the Michael J. Pelczar Award for Excellence in Graduate Study for 2023! The Pelczar Award provides $2,500 to a doctoral candidate who has served at least one academic year as a teaching assistant with commendable performance, and who has demonstrated excellence beyond his or her course work. One, and occasionally two, awards are given each year for the entire campus. Alex is only the second Astronomy student to win the award; Krista Smith received it in 2016. Congratulations to Alex, and thanks to Cole for nominating him!

  • Congratulations to Derek for winning a M.O.S.T. Faculty OER Grant for updates and other improvements to ASTR120/121. His proposal was awarded a $1,000 Adopt/Adapt OER grant plus no-cost participation in the Lumen Circles Fellowship. Congratulations!

  • I'm really pleased to relay the news that the Graduate School has selected our department as one of the first to receive a Departmental Award for Graduate Student Mentorship! The award recognizes both our strong Statement of Expectations for Graduate Student Mentoring and excellent feedback from our graduate students on the gradSERU survey questions about the quality of faculty mentoring and advising. This is not an end point, but is encouragement that we are on the right track.

  • Please extend your congratulations to Dr. Milena Crnogorčević, who defended her PhD thesis titled "New Messengers and New Physics: A Survey of the High-energy Universe" on Monday April 24. Milena will soon be off to Stockholm for a postdoctoral fellowship at the Oskar Klein Centre to work with Tim Linden, and also spending some time at the CCAPP at the OSU to work with John Beacom. Congratulations Milena!

April 2023

  • More news about Alyssa Pagan! TU alumnae help bring space to life at James Webb Space Telescope

  • Many congratulations to our undergrad Fred Garcia, who has been selected as one of Maryland's "Undergraduate Researchers of the Year" for 2023 on Massimo Ricotti's nomination. This recognition includes an award of $1000 and a plaque. Fred will receive his award at the 'Undergraduate Researchers of the Year' award session this Wednesday, April 26 at 1:00 pm, in the Grand Ballroom of the Stamp Student Union. The ceremony opens Undergraduate Research Day (URD). Fred is off to Columbia for grad school this fall. Congratulations again to Fred for such well-earned recognition!

  • With the April 15 AAS formal deadline for responses tomorrow, we have completed our grad admissions process. Here is the incoming generation of 8 students, their current institutions, and their interests (so far, at least).
    • Enrico Biancalani (Leiden U) - astro instrumentation
    • Lacey Allee-Press (UMd) - extragalactic obs
    • Yash Gursahani (UCLA) - high energy obs
    • Kylie Hansen (MIT) - extragalactic obs
    • Zuzanna Kocjan (Univ College London) - simulations
    • Matthew Lastovka (OSU) - exoplanet theory
    • Sander Somers (Glasgow U) - exoplanet atmospheric modeling
    • Mark Ivan Ugalino (UMass Dartmouth) - simulations
    Many thanks to Alberto Bolatto for leading the Admission Committee of Stuart Vogel, Cole Miller, and Jessica Sunshine; key support from Ben Hord, Erica Hammerstein, Rye Volpert, Arjun Savel, Amanda Broadmeadow, Serena Cronin, Joe DeMartini; organization by the incredible team of John Cullinan, Olivia Dent, and Lauren Miles; all of the professorial faculty for reading all the applications; and of course the excellent visits lead by Jordan Ealy and Giannina Guzman Caloca with participation by so many of the graduate students. It takes the whole department to do this every year, and everyone deserves a big round of applause!

  • Thanks to the administrative staff for highlighting another program -- this time 60 minutes -- on JWST imaging that includes a segment with our former student and staff member Alyssa Pagan.

    Also, another interesting media blip about improving the fuzzy donut image of the photon orbits around M87's black hole using machine learning (basically, let the machine loose on a whole set of simulations and see what it comes up with from the actual data). For more, google for your favorite news outlet and see the original paper "The Image of the M87 Black Hole Reconstructed with PRIMO."

  • Please extend your congratulations to Dr. ChongChong He, who defended his PhD thesis titled "Multiscale Radiation-MHD Simulations of Compact Star Clusters" on Friday April 14. ChongChong will be off to a postdoc with Mark Krumholz (Australian National Observatory) to further develop numerical codes to model galactic winds. Congratulations ChongChong!

  • Undergrad Astronomy and Physics major Austin Humphreys has a first-author paper out for his research from last summer. Check out "The Backyard Worlds: Cool Neighbors Citizen Science Project" in Compendium of Undergraduate Research in Astronomy and Space Science by the ASP. (Melissa Hayes-Gehrke is looking into how to submit to this compendium, as we have plenty of worthy contributions we could make.)

  • The Planetary Data System, of which our Small Bodies Node (SBN) led by Gerbs Bauer is a key part, has been recognized by NASA HQ with a high-level award. From the citation:
    "On behalf of our NASA HQ colleagues and the PDS Project Office I am happy to announce that the PDS team has been selected by NASA HQ for its 2022 Silver Group Achievement Award. This is one of NASA's most prestigious team awards for accomplishments that have contributed substantially towards NASA's missions, goals and values. The award goes to all of our PDS colleagues who, from its beginnings more than a decade ago, have contributed to the design, development, and ongoing support of the PDS4 information model. As you know, PDS4 information model has now been accepted as an international standard, by which, most of the world's planetary mission data are now curated. This award is long overdue and serves as an enduring testament to our dedicated team of scientists, engineers and administrative staff members who have, and continue to contribute to the PDS and PDS4."
    Congratulations to our SBN colleagues for receiving this well-deserved recognition!

  • Congratulations to Arjun Savel, who has won the CMNS three-minute thesis (3MT) competition in the Pre-Candidacy category! He receives a prize of $500 from the College, and his name goes on to the Graduate School for the campus-level competition. We will watch closely (if for only 3 minutes) how the next round goes!

  • Amanda Broadmeadow has been awarded an NSF GRFP Fellowship! NSF's Graduate Research Fellowships Program provides prestigious Fellowships "to ensure the quality, vitality, and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States." Amanda is working with CRESST scientist Marta Sewilo at Goddard with Lee Mundy serving as her academic advisor. Way to go Amanda! From CMNS: Eighteen Science Terps Awarded 2023 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

March 2023

February 2023

  • Congratulations to Dr. Ronald Gamble, who is an integral part of the Black in Astro team which was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society's Annie Maunder Medal for 2023! Black in Astro "is a grassroots organization and community that focuses on inspiring, developing, and enriching Black space scientists." Dr. Gamble's work with Black in Astro "brings together outreach and community empowerment, beyond a model of recruitment: communicating astronomy to the public, diversifying early career researcher cohorts, and building a true community." For more information about the Black in Astro's achievements, please see the write-up of the Annie Maunder Medal Black in Astro 2023.

  • Please extend your congratulations to Dr. Jialu Li, who defended her PhD thesis titled "Molecular Spectroscopy of Star Forming Regions: Cool and Hot, Close and Far" on Friday February 24. Jialu will stay with us for a two-year postdoc working on SOFIA and related data on high mass star formation with Xander Tielens. Congratulations Jialu!

  • Benedikt Diemer's Sloan award kept popping up across the University announcements including the CMNS release repeated on MarylandToday Two Faculty Members Receive 2023 Sloan Research Fellowships. If you haven't read the release, it includes quotes from Benedikt and Dean Varshney, along with this explanation: "Awarded this year to 126 of the brightest young scientists across the U.S. and Canada, the fellowships are also often seen as a marker of the quality of an institution's science faculty and proof of an institution's success in attracting the most promising junior researchers to its ranks."
    Marc Pound and Mark Wolfire were interviewed by Frank Timmes as part of the AAS Journal Author Series for their recently published paper about the PDR Toolbox. Available on YouTube or explore the AAS YouTube channel. Marc says it was a fun experience, and recommends it for any department member if they are asked after they publish a paper (Frank is also open to volunteers).
    And a belated reference about the Green Comet -- Tony Farnham's January 24 interview on WUSA9!

  • I am delighted to convey the excellent news that Prof. Benedikt Diemer has been selected as a 2023 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Physics. He is one of only two selected by the Sloan Foundation for this honor on the entire UMD campus this year. This high honor reflects the importance and impact of Benedikt's work so far, and also recognizes his future promise. Read the CMNS release: Two UMD Faculty Members Receive 2023 Sloan Research Fellowships. If you haven't yet, please congratulate Benedikt when you see him!

  • Dr. Laura Vega was chosen to be the CRESST II Scientist of the Month featured for February 2023. Dr. Vega is postdoctoral researcher in the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory at the University of Maryland, College Park.

  • Our alum Jim Ulvestad has been appointed as NSF's Acting Director of Polar Programs. A bio including highlights of the positions he has held is in NSF's announcement of his appointment.

  • Continuing the Green Comet media blitz, Mike Kelly and Carrie Holt star in a New Yorker article What the Green Comet Tells Us About the Past-and the Future. As Mike notes, they stubbornly refuse to correct the error citing its emission of tear gas (chloroacetophenone) instead of cyanogen (CN). Mike did see the comet through binoculars, confirming that his eyes were unaffected by tear gas. The New Yorker had a reputation for fierce fact-checking, but I guess no more. Mike was on the radio, too, WTOP and NPR's Morning Edition (which I heard while driving to campus), and hit the international press with NatGeo France. Carrie and Matthew Knight appear in a Popular Science article A green comet is visiting us from the edge of the solar system, and astronomers are thrilled, too. Quite something!

  • Joe DeMartini is the 2nd (but fully co-first) author on an MNRAS accepted paper that includes Derek Richardson in the author list. The paper, which Joe previewed at last week's Hot Papers, stems from a collaboration I started with a student at Auburn University. The work numerically investigates potential surface refreshing from tidal and other forces on Apophis during its 2029 close Earth encounter.

  • Alice Allen has been selected as a Fellow of the American Astronomical Society! Her citation reads "Alice Allen: For her great insight, deep knowledge, leading advocacy, and inspiring achievements involving open-source astronomy software; for making astronomy a more efficient science by creating avenues to release and cite research software; and for building, editing, and promoting the Astrophysics Source Code Library, a pioneering code repository that now registers more than 2,000 [actually, over 3000 by now] of the most useful codes in astronomy and astrophysics." Send your congratulations to Alice for her work in the best tradition of public service!

  • The AstroTerps, with help from Elizabeth Warner, ran a phenomenally successful viewing of Comet ZTF (C/2022 E3 ZTF, aka the Green Comet) last week! With the weather aligning with the scheduled event, reports are that some 300 to 400 people visited the AstroTerps at the M-circle hill to look through telescopes and binoculars at the comet. AstroTerps leader Siobhan Light posted a photo of the event to the Department's Slack channel -- too dark to make a count, but clearly a lot of people! Participants were also able to get some pizza (probably for the first batch to show up), and collect NASA-related swag. Congratulations to Siobhan, the other AstroTerps involved. and to Elizabeth!
    The comet is getting fainter (6th magnitude today), but it is moving up the leading side (Capella side) of Auriga this week, close to some of the constellation's brighter stars or well-placed between them, which will help in finding it. After moving between Auriga and Mars on Thursday, it will be passing close to Mars on Friday and Saturday as it continues to dim.

January 2023

  • Another bumper crop of publications and interviews (some of which I forgot to include last week by accident) -- keep them coming! I'm sure there are more than I hear about.

  • In the spirit of noting Department members' good news, I pass along the news that I've been selected as a Fellow of the AAS with the citation: "Andrew Harris: For the development of innovative radio-, millimeter-, and submillimeter-wavelength instrumentation, and for insightful studies of the star-forming interstellar medium in our galaxy and in galaxies across cosmic time."

  • Congratulations to Jegug for being awarded an Outstanding Graduate Assistant Award! The Graduate School established this award to recognize and honor the outstanding contributions Graduate Assistants provide to students, faculty, departments, and the University as a whole. The award conveys the honor of being recognized as among the top 2% of campus Graduate Assistants in a given year. In a more concrete appreciation, Jegug will receive a credit for mandatory fees for Spring 2023. Congratulations!

  • Congratulations to Levon Avanov, who received Patent number 11531011 for "Imaging Device with Gated Integrator" on December 20, 2022!

  • Maryland claims three NASA ExoExplorers this round: Ell Bogat and former undergrads Junellie Gonzalez Quiles (graduated in December 2018, now in the grad program at JHU), and Alison Duck (graduated in May 2019, now in the grad program at OSU). We just missed Ell's web presentation on Friday, Jan 20, but Alison's is scheduled for Feb 17th and Junellie's for May 12. Check the ExoExplorers web page for links to the webinars. The Exoplanet Explorers (ExoExplorers) Science Series is sponsored by the ExoPAG Executive Committee and the NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program, aims to enable the professional development of a cohort of graduate students and/or postdocs in exoplanet research ("ExoExplorers"). Each member of the cohort will be featured in a webinar that will be live streamed to the exoplanet community, helping to increase their visibility within the field. The cohort will also engage with established exoplanet researchers ("ExoGuides") via a combination of tailored presentations and small group discussions.

  • In other publication news, Mike Kelly was quoted from the NY Times article How to Watch the 'Green Comet' While You Still Can on a comet discovered by the ZTF:
    Comet C/2022 E3 (Z.T.F.) made its closest approach to the sun on Jan. 12, and the comet is now steadily brightening as it swings toward the Earth. While the comet won't pass us until Feb. 2, it is already nearly visible to the naked eye - an encouraging sign for viewing opportunities, said Mike Kelley, an astronomer at the University of Maryland and the co-lead of the solar system working group at the Zwicky Transient Facility.
    We're still waiting to see how Mike's and Carrie Holt's interviews with the New Yorker and National Geographic France look. The comet's closest approach to Earth will be Feb. 2, and around Jan. 30 it will be halfway along a line between the Big Dipper's "pointer stars" and Polaris. More information and finder charts in the Sky & Telescope article Forget the hype and go outside to enjoy the real thing - a relatively bright comet you can see in binoculars from a dark sky.

  • We have a bumper crop of publications to report this week:

  • We had a bunch of Department members at the AAS. Most prominent of the many talks that Department members gave was Richard Mushotzky's Henry Norris Russell Lecture. Former JSI Fellow Erin Kara (now MIT faculty) gave her Newton Lacy Pierce Prize lecture as well. In prospective Probe-class missions, AXIS (PI Chris Reynolds) had its own splinter session, with a far-IR splinter session covering SPICE (PI Lee Mundy) and PRIMA (co-I Alberto Bolatto, with Sylvain Veilleux on the science team). I didn't find LEM in the program, which has Anna Ogorzalek (member of the core management team) and Sylvain (science working group), but that may well be my error. AXIS also had a booth at AAS that John Cullinan supported masterfully.
    And from Peter Teuben: "I just finished a grueling but rewarding 2-day 'Software Carpentry Workshop' at the Seattle AAS. They use a particular style of teaching that I may talk about at another opportunity. Suffice to say, you co-teach this with another person, and two helpers, and involved a red and green sticky for the 30 learners. Already ran into lots of Maryland current and former students. Quite a few of us were at the AAS, I'd hate to list them all, because I will likely miss so many of our alumni. Did you know that our alumnus Trish Henning is now the VLA director? I think I missed that news. Lee and I also participated in the LMT booth (we had 6 others from UMass, ...). Richard gave a fabulous prize-talk. All plenary talks will be online soon (Vimeo I think). My own highlight, apart from a stellar 10 minute science talk on Shell Galaxies, was co-teaching a grueling and rewarding 2-day Software Carpentry workshop (AAS sponsored) on bash, python and git. We had 30 students, Their style of teaching is very interesting and different. We are considering one for ADASS as well."
    Please let me know of other highlights from AAS!

  • The GRAD-MAP Co-Leads Katya Leidig, Arjun Savel, and Rob Dalka report that the 10th GRAD-MAP Winter Workshop, which was held virtually this year, went spectacularly!!! This year we welcomed 6 incredible students from near and far. They spent the week learning python, professional development skills, and working independently with mentors on specific challenge problems in physics and astronomy. The week ended with a fabulous presentation session by the students. We would like to thank the mentors from the astronomy department, Elizabeth Warner, Matthew Nixon, and Esteban Wright, for cultivating an excellent learning environment and providing unparalleled support and mentorship over such a short period of time! We also had 11 other incredible volunteers from the astronomy department who made this program possible! Thank you all for volunteering your time and expertise!! And last but not least, please give a the co-leads who made this all happen a big round of applause! You can read more about this year's student cohort and the activities they got up to on the GRAD-MAP twitter account.

  • Congratulations to Alex Dittmann for being awarded an Outstanding Graduate Assistant Award! The Graduate School established this award to recognize and honor the outstanding contributions Graduate Assistants provide to students, faculty, departments, and the University as a whole. The award conveys the honor of being recognized as among the top 2% of campus Graduate Assistants in a given year. In a more concrete appreciation, Alex will receive a credit for mandatory fees for Spring 2023. Congratulations!

  • In more AGU news, Derek Richardson reports on DART's press conference announcing their average estimate for the all-important beta parameter, which is 3.6 (meaning, the ejecta imparted 3.6 times as much momentum to Dimorphos as the spacecraft did). This BBC news story has more details and includes a photo featuring several UMD folks!

  • Tad Komacek, Daniel Koll & Jun Yang (Peking University), and Mark Hammond (Oxford University), organized an AGU Session titled "Atmospheres, Climate, and Potential Habitability of Rocky Exoplanets." This included two oral sessions for a total of 15 talks, 18 in-person posters, and 7 online posters. The session description is: Exoplanet discoveries of the past decade have shown that every star hosts at least 0.1-1 roughly Earth-sized, or rocky, planets. Our galaxy therefore contains billions of rocky worlds, vastly outnumbering the 4 rocky planets of our own Solar System. What are these worlds like? This session invites submissions that probe the nature of rocky exoplanets, including: What can our Solar System teach us about rocky exoplanets? How different are atmospheres and climates on rocky planets around other stars, on rocky planets in exotic orbital states, or on rocky planets with radically different formation histories? How can we characterize such planets via observations? And could the processes that kept Earth habitable over billions of years also occur elsewhere?

  • Tad Komacek reports on two new papers: One paper is led by recent UMD Astronomy graduate (now ASU Ph.D student) Yoav Rotman, and demonstrates the potential detectability of the carbon dioxide-methane biosignature pair in the atmosphere of TRAPPIST-1e with JWST NIRSpec/PRISM using 3D circulation modeling with the ExoCAM GCM. Tad leads the second paper, which couples predictions for the internal evolution of hot and ultra-hot Jupiters to MITgcm simulations of their atmospheric dynamics. We show that the internal heat flux can affect the thermal structure and winds of hot and ultra-hot Jupiters and must be taken into account to provide a complete picture of their atmospheric circulation.

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