News: 2019


Parker Solar Probe’s first discoveries: Odd phenomena in space weather, solar wind

December 5, 2019

NASA mission named for pioneering UChicago scientist produces landmark research

Congratulations to Phil Mansfield

December 4, 2019

Phil Mansfield has been appoined as  the James Cronin Graduate Student Fellow.

Astronomers Propose a Novel Method of Finding Atmospheres on Rocky Worlds

December 2, 2019

When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2021, one of its most anticipated contributions to astronomy will be the study of exoplanets—planets orbiting distant stars. Among the most pressing questions in exoplanet science is: Can a small, rocky exoplanet orbiting close to a red dwarf star hold onto an atmosphere?

In a series of four papers in the Astrophysical Journal, a team of astronomers proposes a new method of using Webb to determine whether a rocky exoplanet has an atmosphere. The technique, which involves measuring the planet’s temperature as it passes behind its star and then comes back into view, is significantly faster than more traditional methods of atmospheric detection like transmission spectroscopy.

“We find that Webb could easily infer the presence or absence of an atmosphere around a dozen known rocky exoplanets with less than 10 hours of observing time per planet,” said Jacob Bean of the University of Chicago, a co-author on three of the papers.


Prof. Jacob Bean is the science team lead for the new CASE mission

November 14, 2019

Congratulations to UChicago Astronomy & Astrophysics Professor Jacob Bean, who is the new NASA science team lead for CASE!

NASA will contribute an instrument to a European space mission to explore the atmospheres of hundreds of exoplanets.

The instrument, called the Contribution to ARIEL Spectroscopy of Exoplanets, or CASE, adds scientific capabilities to ESA's Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, or ARIEL, mission.

Mining historical glass slides for astronomical data

November 6, 2019

A test image from the pilot study on mining astronomical data from historical glass slides.


Nearly a decade in the making, exoplanet-hunting instrument installed in Hawaii

October 2, 2019

MAROON-X team members and Gemini Observatory staff standing in front of the Gemini North telescope with the MAROON-X unit.


Ambitious project to map the Big Bang’s afterglow earns NSF funding

September 26, 2019

UChicago-led proposal receives NSF funding for pioneering sky measurements

Event Horizon Telescope Awarded 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

September 5, 2019

Congratulations to the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration for being awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. The citation reads: "For the first image of a supermassive black hole, taken by means of an Earth-sized alliance of telescopes.”  The $3 million prize will be shared equally among the 347 co-authors.


Parker Solar Probe closes in on the Sun one year after launch

August 20, 2019

In the year since its launch, the Parker Solar Probe has collected a host of scientific data from two close passes of the Sun and is now speeding toward another close solar approach on September 1, 2019. Named for S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus Eugene Parker, who theorized the solar wind as the constant outflow of particles and magnetic fields from the Sun, the Parker Solar Probe is the first NASA mission to be named for a living person.

Professor Wendy Freedman leads study for new measurement of disputed constant

August 20, 2019

University of Chicago professor Wendy Freedman and colleagues have a new measurement for the rate of expansion in the modern universe, suggesting the space between galaxies is stretching faster than scientists would expect. The paper, “An Independent Determination of the Hubble Constant Based on the Tip of the Red Giant Branch,” Freedman et al, was published on July 12, 2019, in The Astrophysical Journal.

Orion Nebula, captured in 1901 by American astronomer George Ritchey

August 20, 2019

Remarkably recognizable to astrophotographers today, this stunning image of the star forming Orion Nebula was captured in 1901 by American astronomer and telescope designer George Ritchey. The original glass photographic plate was digitized by the University of Chicago Library in a partnership with Professor Rich Kron and undergraduate interns in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics to develop code for analyzing high-resolution image files made from historic photographic plates in order to extract astrometry and photometry data from them.