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The latest astronomy and astrophysics news and headlines at UC San Diego.

Please send inquiries and/or future news items to the Communications Commtitee Chair.

Cosmic Tours program featured on CBS8 news

The Cosmic Tours portable planetarium program, run by the OIRLab at UC San Diego, was featured this week on San Diego’s CBS8 news. The story featured a recent Cosmic Tours event at Ocean Beach Elementary school led by UCSD graduate student James Wiley, Project Scientist Jarred Roberts, and Data Analysts Bryson Cale. Over the last several years, Cosmic Tours has given over 150 curated planetarium shows around San Diego County. For more information go to the Cosmic Tours webpage

CBS News - May 19, 2024

STARTastro: A new summer research opportunity for community college transfer students!

There is an exciting new opportunity for incoming transfer students interested in studying astronomy and astrophysics at UC San Diego or San Diego State University this summer! STARTastro is a new summer opportunity that includes an 8-week, fully-paid academic and research training program. Applications are open for this summer, due May 24.

StartAstro - May 14, 2024

Gerasimov 2024

UCSD PhD alum Dr. Roman Gerasimov wins IAU Dissertation Prize

Congratulations to Dr. Roman Gerasimov on winning the International Astronomical Union’s Dissertation Award. Roman received his PhD in Physics in 2023 on the topic of “Evolution of Atmospheres and Chemistry of Ancient Stellar Populations” in collaboration with Prof. Adam Burgasser. Roman is now a postdoctoral researcher at University of Notre Dame. The IAU dissertation prize “recognises the outstanding scientific achievements of astronomy PhD students worldwide.” Congratulations Dr. Gerasimov!

IAU News - May 14, 2024

Professor Burgasser Receives the GPSA Community Award for Outstanding Faculty Teaching

Professor Adam Burgasser received the Graduate & Professional Student Associate (GPSA) Award for Outstanding Teaching Award. The GPSA Community Awards are a way for the graduate student community to honor those at UC San Diego who exceed expectations in their contributions to graduate student professional development. Professor Burgasser will be presented with the award during a ceremony on May 22nd. Congratulations Prof Burgasser!

UCSD News - April 29, 2024

Graduate Student Clarissa Do O Receives Lattimer Award for Graduate Excellence

The Carol and George Lattimer Award for Graduate Excellence is given to an outstanding graduate student who seeks interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving and has a strong commitment to education. Recipients not only demonstrate promise as a stellar scientist or mathematician, but also impact others through mentorship, service, and educational outreach."
Originally from Brazil, Clarissa Do O chose UC San Diego for its burgeoning Astronomy & Astrophysics department. Clarissa's research centers on directly imaging exoplanets & studying their orbits & formation. She feels deeply honored to receive this award, seeing it as motivation to continue striving for excellence. Clarissa is actively involved in astronomy outreach & finds joy in ice skating.

SPS News - April 25, 2024

A&A Department Debuts at Triton Day

Congratulations to UC San Diego's Entering Class of 2024! This year marks the debut of the undergraduate program in Astronomy & Astrophysics. Student affairs officer Mikah Al-Arfah and Vice Chair Konopacky enjoyed welcoming a new wave of freshmen and transfer students to learn about the astrophysics program at Triton Day!

UCSD - April 13, 2024

UC San Diego Enjoys Spectacular Partial Solar Eclipse

Over fifteen A&A volunteers deployed all over UC San Diego campus to give out free eclipse glasses and to setup telescopes for viewing the partial eclipse. It was a beautiful San Diego morning with a fanatics turn out from our campus community. After the eclipse, A&A hosted a volunteer event featuring tacos from the Taco Stand!
Professor Burgasser watched the total solar eclipse from a cruise line in Mexico - see news story here. And Watch on local news
Professor Konopacky explains what is an eclipse and how best to watch it, see here.

UCSD News - April 8, 2024

Senior Bretton Simpson Reflects on His Academic Path in Astrophysics

School of Physical Science does a spotlight interview with Bretton Simpson a graduating senior in Physics with a specialization in Astrophysics.

UCSD News - March 28, 2024

Arthur M. Wolfe Symposium Held at Scripps Institute of Oceanography

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography hosted the Arthur M. Wolfe Symposium on March 28, 2024, a tribute to the renowned UC San Diego astrophysicist. The event, commemorating a decade since Wolfe's passing, united researchers, former students, and colleagues to delve into his groundbreaking work on star formation and the early universe. Attendees participated in an interactive workshop exploring gas dynamics in galaxies, showcasing Wolfe's enduring influence on the field.

UCSD News (2014) -- March 28, 2024

Emma Softich awarded the Sally Ride Graduate Fellowship

Emma Softich has been awarded the Sally Ride Graduate Student Fellowship for the Advancement of Women in Physics. The fellowship is named in honor of former UC San Diego Professor of Physics and the first American female astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, a passionate advocate for women in science who passed away in 2012. Emma, a second-year graduate student in the Astronomy PhD program, was honored for her research achievements in the study of cool stars and brown dwarfs, and her contributions to engaging junior women in science as a mentor and outreach participant. Congratulations Emma!

A&A News - February 10, 2024

Undergraduate Tiffany Liou Wins the AAS Chambliss Award

The Department of A&A congratulates undergraduate Tiffany Liou for her award winning poster at the recent 243rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society.  Tiffany is a 4th year undergraduate majoring in Physics with a specialization in Astrophysics.  Her poster entitled "Rest-UV Properties of MUSE DR2 Galaxies” describes her exciting work as a summer research intern at the Space Telescope Science Institute last summer where she worked with Dr. Nimisha Kumari.  The Chambliss Award recognizes exemplary research by undergraduates and graduate students presented at the AAS meeting.  Congratulations Tiffany!

AAS - January 11, 2024

Graduate Student Aravind Valluvan Releases First Catalog of Hot Thermal Solar Flares

UC San Diego graduate student Aravind Valluvan conducted a press conference at the American Astronomical Society 243 Meeting to announce the release of the first catalog of hot thermal solar flares. Valluvan and collaborators observed 2,200 of these hot thermal flares, and their new catalog will be crucial for deriving the formation mechanisms of these flares. Read more about the newly released paper, Valluvan et al. 2023.

AAS - January 10, 2024

Uncovering the Origin of the Universe’s Rare Radio Circles

Prof. Alison Coil and collaborators unravel the origin of rare radio circles as presented in a recent Nature paper. These peculiar radio signals, detected using the latest ASKAP (Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder) telescopes, had puzzled scientists due to their lack of identifiable sources. Coil and researchers, utilizing multi-wavelength observations, identified the origins of several odd radio circles, linking them to distant starburst galaxies and providing crucial insights into their nature and formation. Read more in Nature, Coil et al. 2024

Science - January 8, 2024

Prof. Keres Recognized as Top Influential Researcher, Elevates UC San Diego to 7th Globally

UC San Diego has the highest number of influential voices in the University of California system and ranks 7th highest among universities worldwide, released by Clarivate’s 2023 Highly Cited Researchers (HCR) listProfessor Dusan Keres is highlighed as one of the 71 UC San Diego researchers included on the list in disciplines ranging from astrophysics to economics.

UCSD Today - December 4, 2023

Prof. Burgasser Inducted in the UC San Diego Athletics Hall of Fame

Prof. Adam Burgasser was one of five UC San Diego Alumni inducted into its Athletics Hall of Fame. Prof. Burgasser was recognized for his superb NCAA Diving performance in 1993 - 1996 as an UC San Diego Undergraduate Student. The group brings the total number of UC San Diego Athletics Hall of Famer members to 42. 

UCSD News - November 13, 2023

Beyond UFOs: the Future of Unexplained Anomalous Phenomena

UCSD Today features a concise Q&A session with Shelley Wright. Having recently served on NASA's panel on unexplained anomalous phenomena (UAPs), Wright takes a moment to contemplate her career, share insights about the NASA panel, and discuss the continuous pursuit of discovering extraterrestrial life.

UCSD Today - November 2, 2023

A&A involved in eclipse viewing at Fleet Center and UC San Diego campus

A&A personnel teamed up with the San Diego Fleet Center for a thrilling observation of the annular eclipse on October 14th. San Diego experienced a 76% coverage of the moon obscuring the Sun on Saturday morning. Three brand-new A&A outreach telescopes were arranged at the Fleet Center for public viewing. Additionally, the UC San Diego Undergraduate Astronomy Club set up telescopes outside Geisel Library for a fantastic viewing experience.  A couple weeks prior to the eclipse, Professor Adam Burgasser, taught San Diego students on how to make a pinhole camera (see CBS 8 story). San Diego we had a successful eclipse viewing!(Images: KUSI news interviewing A&A graduate student Jayke Nguyen and a real-time eclipse photograph taken by UCSD undergraduate Bretton Simpson). 

Union Tribune SD - October 14, 2023

Prof. Alison Coil appointed as inaugural chair of Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics

The A&A Department joins the School of Physical Sciences in congratulating our first department chair, Prof. Alison Coil, on her appointment.

UCSD News - September 21, 2023

Across the Universe: UC San Diego Announces New Astronomy and Astrophysics Department

The new A&A department was created in March 2023 and is actively being established and rolled out this year. The department has 12 founding faculty. "We have a long history of cutting-edge research in astrophysics, conducted by the top minds of our generation,” stated UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The formation of a standalone department will usher in a new era of groundbreaking discovery and teaching excellence, and will establish UC San Diego as a preeminent center for astronomy research and education.”


Graduate Student Aneesh Baburaj Selected for a NASA FINESST Award

UC San Diego Astrophysics Graduate Student Aneesh Baburaj has been selected to receive a prestigious FINESST (Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology) award from NASA.  FINESST awards are given to graduate students working on research programs that contribute to the mission of NASA.  Aneesh received his award from the NASA Astrophysics Division for his work on measuring the individual abundances in the host stars of directly imaged exoplanets.  Aneesh will use these abundance measurements for comparison with the properties of the planets that orbit these stars to offer insight into how massive gas giants form.  

NASA link - July 12, 2023

Honoring the 40th anniversary of Sally Ride’s Historic Launch Into Space

On June 18, 2023, we commemorate Sally Ride's groundbreaking journey as the first American woman in space aboard the shuttle Challenger. Beyond this historic achievement, Ride's impact at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) is profound. As a professor of physics at UCSD, she inspired countless students, encouraging them to pursue their passions in STEM fields. Her dedication to education and commitment to fostering inclusivity continue to resonate in UCSD's scientific community and worldwide. 

Sally Ride Center at UCSD - News Story

George Fisher

UCSD Alum Dr. Fisher Receives the AAS 2023 Hale and Harvey Prize

Dr. George Fisher receives American Astronomical Society (AAS) Hale and Harvey Prize for his pioneering work in modeling solar flares and revealing the behavior of the Sun’s magnetic field and solar interior. Dr Fisher received his PhD in Physics at UCSD in 1984. Dr. Fisher received the prize at the AAS meeting in June 2023.

AAS News

Prof. Burgasser Receives SPS 2023 EDI Excellence Award

Professor Adam Burgasser received the UC San Diego School of Physical Sciences (SPS) 2023 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) award for his strong contributions to address EDI issues in the SPS academic curriculum by leading seminars and developing new courses on anti-racism and perceptions of stereotypes in physics.

UCSD News - May 9, 2023

NSF funds $52.7 million to the Advanced Simons Observatory

The National Science Foundation has partnered with the Simons Foundation to generate the Advanced Simons Observatory for Cosmic Microwave Background. The first instruments of the Simons Observatory are deploying this year in Chile (one shipped from UCSD this month) and will achieve first light this year. The NSF funds will enable new detectors that will double the observatory's imaging speed and significantly increase its sensitivity, while accompanying an advanced data processing and storage system.

NSF News - May 9, 2023

UC San Diego Launches a Stellar Ph.D. Program in Astronomy

We officially announced our new graduate program in astronomy and welcomed its first full cohort of students this academic year in Fall 2022. Read more about the new program in UC San Diego Today.


Sandstrom team reveal stunning JWST nearby galaxy images

Prof. Sandstrom, UC San Diego Postdoc Scholar Jessica Sutter, and former UC San Diego Postdocotral Scholar Jeremy Chastenet released their latest James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) findings on dust in the insterstellar medium in nearby galaxies. The latest findings show the critical importance of studying polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and inferring the astrophysics of star formation and the ISM.  Picture: A side-by-side comparison of NGC 628 (Phantom Galaxy) images taken from the Spitzer Space Telescope (l) and JWST (r) show a remarkable increase in clarity and detail. (SST cr: NASA/JPL-CalTech; JWST cr: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

UCSD News - February 16, 2023

Arnold part of new partnership with SDSC and Workforce Training

San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego is part of a new $3.2 million consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science to train the next generation of computational high-energy physicists. Professor Arnold is one of the UC San Diego professors leading these efforts, including Prof. Ni and Prof. Duarte from Physics.

UCSD news - February 7, 2023


Prof. Burgasser and UC San Diego Ph.D. alum Chih-Chun “Dino” (now postdoc at Northwestern University) published a stunning paper on one of the most tiniest binary stars. The discovery was announed at the  241stAmerican Astronomical Society Meeting. The binary is a pair of ultracool dwarfs that orbit each other in just 20.5 hours. The star system is the lowest-mass binary ever found, and this discovery launches new questions about how common these tight cool binaries exist.

Sky & Telescope - January 13, 2023

Simons Observatory Nearing Completion

After more than six years of planning, building and testing, the four-telescope array is nearing completion in 2023. Established by Professors Keating and Arnold, along with collaborators, the Simons Observatory project has grown to over 380 scientists, engineers and staff from academic institutions around the world. Read about the latest instrumentation updates and installation of the telescopes in the current highlight. Picture: Graduate student Maximiliano Silva-Feaver assembling the cryogenic focal plane module.

UCSD News - January 13, 2023

Alumni Spotlight: Mikaela Larkin

Mikaela Larkin graduated last spring with a B.S. in physics with a specialization in astrophysics. During her time at UC San Diego she was the lead author on the paper, “Characterization of Population III Stars with Stellar Atmosphere and Evolutionary Modeling and Predictions of their Observability with the JWST,” recently published in The Astronomical Journal. Read more about the paper and Larkin’s time at UC San Diego in this spotlight Q&A.

UCSD News - January 6, 2023

Keating named 2022 legend of flight honoree

Prof. Keating was recently honored by the International Air & Space Hall of Fame as a 2022 Legend of Flight honoree for his exemplary research in the cosmic microwave background. Guests from around the world convened at the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s Edwin D. McKellar Pavilion of Flight on November 19 to recognize Keating and the other honorees. 

UCSD News - December 16, 2022

Keres part of UCSD being ranked 8th Globally for Most Influential Research

UC San Diego ranks 8th in the world for 2022 as having the most "Highly Cited Researchers" and is the highest ranked University of California institution on the list. Prof. Keres is listed among the top UC San Diego cited researchers and highlighted in the news release.

UCSD News - November 22, 2022

The Science of Cool Stars and Super Earths

Prof. Burgasser and graduate student Christan Aganze were part of the research team that discovered two Super Earth type planets orbiting a dim, cool star, named LP 890-9. Read the full interview with Burgasser and Aganze on the importance of this discovery.

UCSD News - November 2, 2022

Wright announced as NASA UAP panel member

NASA has commenced an independent study team on unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP) to examine UAPs from a scientific perspective to improve our understanding and collaboration with other partners on this topic. Prof. Wright was selected as one of 16 members of the NASA independent study team. A public report is expected to be released in 2023.

NASA - Oct 21, 2022

Simons Observatory Breaks Award Records at UC San Diego

Professor Brian Keating and Professor Kam Arnold received UCSD most highly funded project of the year with $62 million from the Simons Foundation to fund the construction of Simons Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert (at 17,200 feet in elevation), which is capable of studying the cosmic microwave background at unprecedented detail and sensitivity.

UCSD News - August 4, 2022

Simons Funds

Konopacky and Team Ready to Upgrade GPI

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) was shipped from Gemini-South Observatory in Chile to the United States for its major upgrades. Prof. Konopacky and collaborators at Notre Dame will be conducting upgrades to the instrument. Once complete the newly, upgraded GPI will be shipped to Gemini-North Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii where it will complete a new directly-imaged exoplanet survey.

Notre Dame - July 17, 2022

Shelley Wright Named 2022 Drake Award Recipient

UC San Diego Associate Professor of Physics Shelley Wright received the 2022 Drake Award from the SETI Institute in May 2022. Wright was recognized for her decades-long work in the field of searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) with innovative optical and infrared instruments. 

UCSD News - March 19, 2022

Frank Drake Award
Kielan Hoch

Graduate Student Kielan Hoch Awarded Giacconi Postdoctoral Fellowship

UC San Diego astrophysics graduate student Kielan Hoch has been awarded the prestigious Giacconi Postdoctoral Fellowship.  The award is named in honor of Nobel laureate Riccardo Giacconi, who was the founding director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland.  The award supports postdoctoral fellows for three years to conduct independent research at STScI.  Kielan’s thesis research at UCSD focuses on understanding the atmospheres of gas giant exoplanets. Her postdoctoral fellowship, which will commence after she receives her Ph.D. this summer, will be focused on analyzing observations of planets from the newly-launched James Webb Space Telescope.  Congratulations Kielan!

Giacconi Fellowship - February 20, 2022

UCSD Astronomers Help Identify Rare Brown Dwarf Pair

A team including UC San Diego Professor of Physics Adam Burgasser and Physics graduate students Christian Aganze and Dino Hsu have discovered an unusual pair of brown dwarfs.  Using the W.M. Keck Telescope, the team discovered the pair orbit each other while being separated by 12 billion miles, or three times the separation of Pluto from the Sun.  This makes it the widest pair of brown dwarfs ever discovered.  The target was first identified as a target of interest by the citizen science project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9.  

Keck News - February 17, 2022

Graduate Student Maren Cosens Awarded Brinson Carnegie Fellowship

UC San Diego astrophysics graduate student Maren Cosens has been awarded the prestigious Brinson Postdoctoral Fellowship.  The award is given by the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California.  It supports postdoctoral fellows who demonstrate excellence in astronomical instrumentation, providing up to five years of funding for independent research at Carnegie.  Maren’s thesis research focuses on development of near-infrared instrumentation and observations of star formation in nearby and distant galaxies.  Her postdoctoral fellowship will focus on instrumentation development for Magellan Observatory.  Congratulations Maren!

Carnegie Fellowships - February 13, 2022

Professor Dusan Keres Recognized as Most Cited World-wide Researcher

Professor Keres is among the world’s most influential researchers in their fields according to the 2021 Clarivate listing of Most Highly Cited Researchers in the World. Clarivate’s 2021 list identifies some 6,600 researchers from across the globe who demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. 

UCSD News - November 21, 2021

Graduate Student Eltha Teng Awarded Taiwanese Scholarship

Graduate student Yu-Hsuan “Eltha” Teng was awarded a prestigious scholarship from the government of Taiwan. Eltha was awarded the "Government Scholarship to Study Abroad" (GSSA) Scholarship, which is honored to only a small number of Taiwanese students pursuing a PhD degree outside of Taiwan. The scholarship comes from the Ministry of Education of Taiwan.

MOFA Taiwain Scholarship - November 3, 2021

NSF funds AI Data Institute

The NSF has funded $15 Million to advance A3D3 Institute. To take full advantage of fast AI, the A3D3 Institute will target fundamental problems in three fields of science: high energy physics, multi-messenger astrophysics and systems neuroscience. “The ability to identify and further distribute these events as astronomical alerts enables the entire transient astronomy community to cross-correlate observations and understand astrophysical phenomena” said Assistant Physics Professor Javier Duarte....

UCSD News - September 21, 2021

Graduate Student Jayke Nguyen Awarded the Sloan Fellowship

Sloan Scholar Fellow

UC San Diego now offers an Astronomy Ph.D. Program

July 1, 2021

The Physics Department now supports a M.S. and Ph.D. program in Astronomy. This new program will provide a competitive and cutting-edge educational and research environment for worldwide graduate students interested in studying astronomy & astrophysics. The new Astronomy Graduate Program is supported by 16 Physics Faculty.