Group News
2020 Group News

June 2020

In August of 2019, the LIGO-Virgo gravitational-wave network witnessed the merger of a black hole with 23 times the mass of our sun and a mystery object 2.6 times the mass of the sun. Scientists do not know if the mystery object was a neutron star or black hole, but either way it set a record as being either the heaviest known neutron star or the lightest known black hole. There was strong CIERA involvement in this work. The paper was led by Director Vicky Kalogera. Also on the paper team was Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow Mario Spera, who led the discussion of the astrophysical implications. Graduate student Michael Zevin helped put together a first draft. Graduate student Chase Kimball calculated the merger rates (one of the most important pieces of information for interpreting the results); he is now the go-to person in the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration for these calculations, having led the work for multiple papers. Board of Visitors Research Assistant Professor Christopher Berry served as the lead of the Editorial Board for this paper. Learn more. 

Vicky Kalogera is one of six women leaders from Northwestern University in the field of science, technology, engineering and math to be included in this year’s Notable Women in STEM list by Crain’s Chicago Business. Continue. 

April 2020

CIERA doctoral student Michael Zevin was awarded the esteemed 2020 NASA Hubble Fellowship, and will begin working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute of University of Chicago in the fall after graduating with his PhD. Zevin was one of 24 researchers selected for the Nasa Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP), considered one of the highlights of NASA’s pursuit of excellence in space science, enabling outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA astrophysics. Continue reading. 

Just over a year ago, on 12 April 2019, the LIGO-Virgo collaboration made a detection of gravitational waves, rippling out across space-time from the epic collision of two black holes from 2.4 billion light-years away. By now, marvelously, this is nothing out of the ordinary in and of itself. But, as astronomers have now revealed, the actual GW 190412 collision was something we have never seen before. Rather than two roughly equal-mass black holes between 20 and 40 times the mass of the Sun, GW 190412 was produced by a wildly uneven binary. Continue to the full article, where Research Assistant Professor Christopher Berry is quoted. 

February 2020

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, has established a new accolade, Fellow of the AAS, to honor members for extraordinary achievement and service. AAS Fellows will be recognized for original research and publication, innovative contributions to astronomical techniques or instrumentation, significant contributions to education and public outreach, and noteworthy service to astronomy and to the Society itself.

Continue to the full press release from the AAS.

Professors Vicky Kalogera and Fred Rasio were named among the initial set of “legacy fellows”.  Beginning in 2020, there will be an annual call and selection process for AAS Fellows. At any given point, members honored with this distinction will not exceed 0.5% of the number of current full members of the AAS.

2019 Group News

December 2019

Astronomers have predicted how to look inside stars using gravitational waves, allowing researchers to determine the structure of stars using this new method of probing stars and next-generation instruments. Gravitational wave sources are ideal for measuring inside stars; they interact very weakly with matter, making it possible for them to travel freely through the dense hearts of stars. The star’s gravity alters the path the wave takes, enabling researchers to map out its internal structure. This type of astronomical measurement is impossible with light. Continue to the full article. 

“That’s thanks to a new light-squeezing instrument that researchers installed in the experiment’s main machine: the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Its Italian counterpart, Virgo, got a similar tool. The instrument, called a quantum vacuum squeezer, is the latest in a series of upgrades to the gravitational-wave detectors, which are opening a new field of astronomy and changing how we understand the universe. Read the full Business Insider article, “An experiment that solved a 100-year-old mystery posed by Einstein just got up to 50% more powerful by squeezing light” by Morgan Mcfall-Johnsen.

November 2019

Five Northwestern University faculty members have been elected 2019 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. Jennifer Cole, Noshir Contractor, Vicky Kalogera, Michael Miksis and Farhad Yusef-Zadeh have been recognized for their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. They will be honored on Feb. 15 at the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington. Continue to the full news story.

August 2019

Though detectors also picked up signs of a neutron star-black hole merger on April 26, researchers say that S190814bv is far more compelling. The April event has a one-in-seven chance of being noise from Earth, and false alarms akin to the April signal are expected to pop up once every 20 months. But S190814bv almost certainly came from beyond our planet, and to see a false alarm resembling S190814bv, the LIGO team estimates that you’d have to wait longer than the age of the universe. ‘This is something to get much more excited about,’ says LIGO team member Christopher Berry, a physicist at Northwestern University. ‘It’s much more likely to turn up a real one, so that means it’s worth investing more time and effort. Continue to the full news story.

July 2019

A team of physicists and astronomers from Northwestern University is poised to lead gravitational-wave astronomy into its next evolution. The W. M. Keck Foundation has awarded $1 million, which will be used to develop a prototype for a new kind of gravitational-wave detector that is small enough to fit on a tabletop and powerful enough to detect cosmic events that existing astronomical equipment cannot. Continue to the full news story.

June 2019

CIERA graduate student Monica Gallegos Garcia was awarded a fellowship within the distinguished Ford Foundation Fellowship Program, administered by the Fellowship Office of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. “It’s a huge honor to be selected for this fellowship, specifically because of the pool of applicants. Since [the fellowship] is for increasing diversity in academia, I know the other applicants might have similar backgrounds as myself,” said Gallegos Garcia. Continue to the full news story.

May 2019

Researchers are using gravitational waves to better understand black holes. LIGO’s detectors are sensitive to stellar mass black holes up to 100 times the mass of the sun—and quite efficient at finding them, too, compared to X-ray telescope efforts since the 1970s. If you count both black holes in each merger, “we’re now at the point where we’ve discovered as many [stellar mass black holes] with gravitational waves as we have with X-rays,” says Christopher Berry of Northwestern University. Continue to the full news story. “Seekers of gravitational waves are on a cosmic scavenger hunt. Since the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory turned on in 2015, physicists have caught these ripples in spacetime from several exotic gravitational beasts — and scientists want more.This week, LIGO and its partner observatory Virgo announced five new possible gravitational wave detections in a single month, making what was once a decades-long goal almost commonplace (SN Online: 5/2/19)…. Continue to the full news story. “The first month of LIGO-Virgo’s third observing run has been truly amazing, potentially bringing us the discovery of the so far missing third, hybrid class of mergers – a neutron star merging with a black hole,” said Professor Vicky Kalogera, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics at Northwestern University and member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, in an emailed statement.  Continue to the full news story.

April 2019

The LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave detectors are set to resume their hunt for gravitational waves on April 1. This go-around, they’ll be even more sensitive thanks to a set of upgrades to their lasers, mirrors, and other components. This next run will be a big deal—for different reasons than the first two observation sessions. Continue to the full news story. Rainer Weiss, who won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the historic observation of gravitational waves, will deliver the Heilborn Lectures at Northwestern University on April 2, 3 and 5. They are free and open to all. The first two talks are of a technical nature, and the last one is for a lay audience. Continue to the full news story.

February 2019

Though the gravitational-wave signals provide a wealth of information about the pre-merger binaries, we haven’t yet been able to determine how these black-hole binaries formed in the first place. Did these pairs evolve in isolation? Or were they born from interactions in the dense centers of star clusters? One overlooked piece of data might shed light on these questions in the future: eccentricity. Since black-hole binaries in isolation take a long time to merge, any initial eccentricity in the orbit will be damped by gravitational-wave emission by the time the merger happens. But what if the binary doesn’t evolve in isolation? Could we see an imprint of eccentricity on the gravitational-wave signal then? A new study led by scientist Michael Zevin (Northwestern University and CIERA) explores one possible channel for eccentric mergers: chaotic interactions between multiple black-hole binaries in the centers of star clusters. Continue to the full news story.

January 2019

CIERA graduate students Aprajita Hajela and Eve Chase coordinated a trip for middle school students to visit Dearborn Observatory on an afternoon field trip on January 22. The students are associated with the local Youth and Opportunity United (Y.O.U.) program in Evanston, IL. Continue to the full news story.

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2018 Group News

December 2018

New detections and analysis of gravitational waves – announced Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy Workshop in College Park, Maryland – broaden scientists’ understanding of the entire population of stellar-mass black holes, which are formed from collapsing stars. Read the full article.  

November 2018

CIERA Research Specialist Scotty Coughlin has been included in the list of honorable mentions in the inaugural (2018) LIGO Laboratory Awards for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration. The honor is bestowed “for his role in the creation of Gravity Spy (, a tool for citizen-scientists to assist the collaboration in classifying non-astrophysical transients in the detector data, and for the development of computational infrastructure to allow use of Gravity Spy results in other diagnostic analyses.” Read the full article.  

October 2018

Founded ten years ago, the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) is celebrating a decade of astrophysics discovery and research, and the community joins in this commemoration through the annual public lecture series. The annual public lecture serves is a special event that connects Northwestern researchers, astronomers, students, and the public, for an evening exploring a timely and exciting astronomy topic. Past speakers include Nobel laureates Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson; typically, the speaker is brought in from outside the university. The celebration of the tenth anniversary called for the selection of CIERA Director, Vicky Kalogera, as presenter. Read the full article.  

September 2018

Humans of LIGO is an initiative which celebrates the vital cogs in this mega-science endeavor: individuals in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC). Founded in 1997, the LSC comprises of more than 1300 scientists and engineers from over 100 institutions and 18 countries worldwide. The Collaboration exhibits incredible diversity among its members, with people coming from all backgrounds and at various stages of their careers. Enjoy features on Kalogera group members Eve Chase and Scotty Coughlin. Read the full article.  “As director of Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics(CIERA), Vicky Kalogera has traveled the globe to talk about things beyond this world. Connecting the public to Northwestern’s work in astronomy is at CIERA’s core. With a special annual lecture series, the center brings campus and surrounding communities together to hear prominent astronomers speak on fascinating and timely topics. Past speakers have included Nobel laureates Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne, and astrophysicist/author/science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson….” Read the full Northwestern Office for Research Article. Gravitational-wave scientist Christopher Berry has joined Northwestern this fall. His role at CIERA is that of both a researcher and a science manager, developing and maintaining the research of the CIERA Director, Vicky Kalogera. Christopher is supporting the Kalogera group’s graduate students as they work on a diverse range of interesting projects related to compact objects, stellar evolution and gravitational astrophysics. Read the full article.  

July 2018

The 12th International LISA Symposium was held in Chicago July 8 – 13. The meeting was dedicated to gravitational wave astrophysics, with particular emphasis on sources that can be observed in the millihertz band by the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), the current status and unique challenges in gravitational theory and analysis for LISA sources, and the latest updates on the development of the LISA mission. The Symposium was hosted by CIERA and co-sponsored by the American Astronomical Society, with CIERA professors Shane Larson and Fred Rasio leading the scientific organizing committee. About 240 people participated, including Northwestern researchers Katie Breivik, Eve Chase, Vicky Kalogera, Michael Katz, Kyle Kremer, Shane Larson, and Fred Rasio. Learn more about the LISA space mission. About 25 members of GWIC, the Gravitational Wave International Committee, met on July 8 at the start of the 12th International LISA Symposium. Formed over 20 years ago, the committee facilitates international collaboration and cooperation in the construction, operation and use of the major gravitational wave detection facilities world-wide. CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera helped host and organize, and CIERA sponsored the meeting. Learn more about GWIC and gravitational waves.  

May 2018

This year’s World Science Festival in New York City featured an expert panel discussing black holes, including CIERA director Vicky Kalogera. Also featured was a video illustrating the collision of two neutron stars (GW170817), created by CIERA’s Aaron Geller. The World Science Festival is an educational non-profit which was founded 11 years ago by physicist Brian Greene. Read the full article. As part of its ongoing STEM event series, on May 17 The Chicago Network (TCN), an organization of Chicago’s leading professional women, partnered with CIERA to bring a panel discussion on this topic to an audience of 50. Vicky Kalogera (TCN member since 2013) and colleagues Raffaella Margutti and Wen-fai Fong, described their roles and experiences in the making of this ground-breaking discovery. With an introduction to the science from science communicator Shane Larson, the round-table discussion was moderated by Michelle Larson (TCN member since 2013), President and CEO of Adler Planetarium. Read the full article. Vicky Kalogera, faculty in Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States. Kalogera, the Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Read the full Northwestern News announcement.  

March 2018

Embassy of Greece Interviews CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera: “Our discussion with Professor Kalogera took place while she was waiting for a vacant space at Northwestern’s parking lot,” begins the Newsmaker of the Month feature interview in the March 2018 newsletter from the Embassy of Greece. Continue to the full interview.  

February 2018

As part of a National Science Foundation meeting with congress on February 5, 2018, CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera was invited to meet one-on-one with U.S. Congressman John Culberson, from Texas. Professor Kalogera described and answered questions about the double neutron star merger that made impressive headlines in the fall of 2017. National Science Foundation Director France A. Córdova was present for the meeting. Continue to the full news story.  

January 2018

On January 31, 2018, at the Allen Center, Northwestern University Weinberg Dean Adrian Randolph hosted an investiture ceremony honoring the new academic appointments of Weinberg’s endowed chair holders. Among those introduced was CIERA director Vicky Kalogera, who was named the Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Vicky came to Northwestern in 2001 as an assistant professor and previously held the title E. O. Haven Professor of Physics & Astronomy. Read the full article. Vicky Kalogera has been awarded the 2018 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics for her groundbreaking work studying compact objects — including black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs — in astrophysical systems.  The award, administered by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and the American Astronomical Society (AAS), cites Kalogera’s “fundamental contributions to advancing our understanding of the evolution and fate of compact objects in binary systems, with particular regard to their electromagnetic and gravitational wave signals.” Continue to the full Northwestern News announcement.

2017 Group News


November 2017

Professors Vicky Kalogera, Shane Larson, Raffaella Margutti and Wen-fai Fong welcomed an audience of about 200 for a science talk and moderated panel discussion on November 28 titled “Peering into the Cosmic Maelstrom”. The faculty described their roles and experiences in the making of the ground-breaking first-ever observation of a binary neutron star inspiral and merger, announced October 16. The event was introduced by Northwestern Vice President for Research Jay Walsh, and the panel discussion and audience question period was moderated by Adler Planetarium President, Michelle Larson.
Read the full article.

Eve Chase was preparing for a final exam when she received an email that LIGO, the tandem observatories set to listen for gravitational waves emitted by cosmic events, had detected yet another binary black hole merger. Since that moment, Eve, a second-year doctoral student at Northwestern, devoted her efforts to studying the event, becoming the youngest person in the over 1,000 world-wide LIGO-Virgo collaboration of scientists to lead the analysis (called “parameter estimation”) of one of LIGO’s chirps.
Read the full article.


October 2017

On October 16, 2017, scientists announced the first-ever observation of a binary neutron star inspiral and merger—this astronomical event will provide a powerful new way to understand the lives of stars and how they die and join the galactic graveyard. Vicky Kalogera, CIERA Director and Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, served as lead astrophysicist on the panel at the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) press conference announcing the discovery.
Read the full article.

Barry Barish, Kip Thorne and Rai Weiss received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves. “I was so much hoping for this wonderful news,” said Vicky Kalogera, astrophysicist and Director of CIERA, who contributed to the historic detections as well. “My Northwestern colleagues and I warmly congratulate Rai, Kip and Barry on this recognition. The discovery of black-hole mergers and the detection of gravitational waves never would have happened without these creative scientists.”
Read the full article.


September 2017

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and the Virgo collaboration announced today (Sept. 27) the first joint detection, made on August 14, of gravitational waves with both LIGO and Virgo detectors. It is the fourth announced detection of a binary black hole system and the first significant gravitational-wave signal recorded by the Virgo detector, located near Pisa, Italy.
Read the full article.

At the LSC-Virgo September Meeting near Geneva, Switzerland, graduate student Eve Chase won the best poster award in the Data Analysis/Theory category. Eve is a second-year physics graduate student who is part of Vicky Kalogera’s group. Eve studies computational and data analysis techniques related to gravitational wave astronomy. Her poster, titled “Gravitational-Wave Localization in the LSST Era,” focused on using the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope to search for electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational waves.
Read the full article.

The September 2017 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine features an article by Vicky Kalogera which gives her personal and professional account of the first gravitational wave events detected by LIGO. In the article, Prof.Kalogera describes the science behind the detections, their significance and promise, as well as the excitement in the astronomy community as these phenomenal occurrences unfolded.
Access the September 2017 Issue.


August 2017

The eleventh issue of LIGO Magazine is now available for download. The issue focuses on LIGO’s third detection of two merging black holes during observation run, “O2”. Check out past issues of LIGO magazine.


June 2017

The Graduate School of Northwestern University has selected Fani Dosopoulou to receive the Holt Award. Named in honor of Helen Froelich Holt ’34, ‘38MS, it is a one-time award to help facilitate completion of the dissertation leading to a PhD. The prize is intended to provide monetary support in the student’s final year of writing and defense of the dissertation.
Read the full story.

Northwestern Now reported on June 1, 2017 that “One, two and now three historic waves have come from deep space.” The press release continues: “The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) made the detection Jan. 4, 2017, demonstrating that a new window in astronomy has been firmly opened. Gravitational waves pass through Earth and can be “heard” by the extremely sensitive LIGO detectors. As was the case with the first two detections, the waves were generated when two black holes merged to form a larger black hole. The long-awaited triumph in September 2015 of the first-ever direct observation of gravitational waves completed Einstein’s vision of a universe in which space and time are interwoven and dynamic.”
Read the full Northwestern Now article.
Read more on the CIERA web site.


May 2017

Congratulations to undergraduates Rebecca Diesing and Charles “Chase” Kimball, who jointly won the Department of Physics & Astronomy prize for best senior thesis, 2017. This award is given on behalf of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Rebecca and Chase are both astronomy students; Rebecca works with Professor Farhad Yusef-Zadeh and Chase works with Professor Vicky Kalogera.
Read the full story.

On May 5, 2017, CIERA Director, Vicky Kalogera was featured in Chicago Woman magazine’s “Women in STEM” column. Kalogera’s interview discussed her involvement with the LIGO team, and their discovery of gravitational waves. The interview also explored Kalogera’s upbringing and long-term interests in science, and what it is like to be a female researcher in a historically male-dominated field.
Read the full Chicago Woman interview.

Vicky Kalogera has been honored as the winner of the 2017 Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence. This award is given to one faculty member annually by the Northwestern University Provost. Provost Linzer states, “Vicky is a highly prolific and influential scholar in the fields of physics and astronomy. She is a senior member of the international team that detected the first direct evidence of gravitational waves. With these data, her team also made the first direct observation of two black holes colliding.” Continue to the Northwestern News announcement or the Office of the Provost announcement.
Read the Northwestern News announcement.
Read the Office of the Provost announcement.


March 2017

The tenth issue of LIGO Magazine is now available for download. This issue focuses on LIGO’s second observation run, “O2”. In “Getting ready for O2: A data analysis perspective”, gravitational-wave astronomers Sarah Caudill and Vivien Raymond discuss preparing to analyze the new data. Vivien is a Northwestern PhD from CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera’s research group. Mike Zevin, a 3rd year doctoral student at Northwestern, penned a feature article, “The Gravity Spy Project: Machine learning and citizen science” highlighting the relationship between professional astronomers and citizen scientists which is making analyzing LIGO data more effective.
Read the full story.

2016 Group News

December 2016

In December, several prestigious honors were announced for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the team of scientists and engineers involved in the gravitational-wave discovery announced earlier this year. CIERA’s director, Vicky Kalogera, led the astrophysical interpretation of the discovery for the LIGO collaboration. Over the years, her group pioneered ways of making detection source rate predictions and developed methods for extracting information from gravitational-wave signals from binaries of spinning compact objects.
Read the full story.

On December 1st and 2nd, Dave Reitze, the Executive Director of LIGO Laboratory at Caltech, visited Northwestern for a series of group meetings, a tour of the Laboratory for Atomic and Photonic Technology, and to present CIERA’s Fall Interdisciplinary Colloquium on the topic of gravitational waves detected by LIGO. Dr. Reitze, Northwestern alumnus class of 1983, met with LIGO Scientific Collaboration members Vicky Kalogera, Shane Larson, Selim Shahriar and several postdocs and students at Northwestern who contributed to the discovery (some of whom are pictured, left). His talk, titled, “Colliding Black Holes & Convulsions in Space-time: The First Observations of Gravitational Waves by LIGO,” included a description of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory and the “powerful and unique probes of the universe” that LIGO captures.
Read the Office for Research story.

October 2016

LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, is the most sensitive and complex gravitational experiment ever created. When researchers look at the information LIGO receives from the Universe, they also confront the instrumental and environmental noise the observatory picks up. Gravity Spy lets the lay public act as citizen scientists to help categorize noise, or glitches, in the massive amounts of data coming from the detectors here on Earth that first heard gravitational waves.

As the Gravity Spy team explains, “Humans still are far better than computers at recognizing subtle differences across images and when an image simply does not fit within a known category. Please help us identify all of the glitch morphologies and open up an even bigger window into the gravitational wave universe!”

The Gravity Spy team is made up of LIGO researchers within CIERA, LIGO researchers at Cal State Fullerton, machine learning researchers at Northwestern University, crowd-sourced science researchers at Syracuse University, and Zooniverse web developers. Gravity Spy is funded by the NSF INSPIRE 1547880 grant.

Learn more at
Read the Daily Zooniverse Announcement.
Read Citizen Scientists Join Search for Gravitational Waves on Symmetry.

September 2016

CIERA postdoctoral fellow Laura Sampson is among five female scientists honored with the 2016 For Women in Science Fellowship from L’Oréal USA. The program recognizes exemplary female scientists for their contributions in STEM and their commitment to serving as role models for younger generations. As part of the award, Dr. Sampson will receive $60,000 to advance her postdoctoral research. Along with the other recipients, she will visit the White House, the National Academy of Sciences, a New Jersey public school, and L’Oréal Headquarters.

Read the full announcement from L’Oréal USA.
Read the Northwestern News announcement.
Read about Laura’s achievement in the ChicagoInno.

July 2016

Dr. Kalogera is hosting and mentoring 14 high school and college students from around the country this summer, who are each working on their own independent research projects. The students are also receiving guidance from CIERA’s Postdoctoral Fellow Chris Pankow, Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellow Scotty Coughlin, and Graduate Student Mike Zevin.

Front row (left to right): Jason Yang, Sophie Haight, Andrew Kim, Vicky Kalogera, Yuqi Yun, Ben Silverman, Luke Calian, Sam Imperato
Back Row (left to right): Chris Pankow, Kevin Ensor, Scotty Coughlin, Max Ordonez, Jacob Schultze, Robert Doane-Soloman, Mike Zevin
Not shown: Ethan Marx, Ahsan Anjum, William Tong




June 2016

The LIGO Collaboration announced the second detection of a new pair of colliding black holes by the LIGO detectors. The second detection occurred Dec. 26, 2015, and is known as the “Boxing Day event.”

Read on for full coverage.

May 2016

Yuri Milner, a Russian entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and physicist, is giving $3 million as a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics to honor the scientists and engineers involved in the gravitational-wave discovery announced earlier this year. $1 million will be shared equally by the three LIGO founders, Ronald Drever, Kip Thorne, and Rainer Weiss, and the remaining $2 million will be shared equally by the 1,012 contributors.
Read the Breakthrough Prize announcement.

A second prestigious honor, the Gruber Foundation’s $500,000 Cosmology Prize, will be conferred to the founders and the entire LIGO team for “pursuing a vision to observe the universe in gravitational waves, leading to a first detection that emanated from the collision of two black holes.” The priz citation continues, “This remarkable event provided the first glimpse into the strong-gravity regime of Einstein’s theory of general relativity that governs the dynamics of black holes, giving direct evidence for their existence, and demonstrating that their nature is consistent with the predictions of general relativity.”
Read the full press release on the Gruber Cosmology Prize.

During his undergraduate career at Northwestern, Kyle Kremer combined his love of the planets and music into a dual physics and trumpet degree. Now a graduate student in the Physics & Astronomy department, he brought that love to the broader Northwestern community in the Solar System Symphony concert on May 24th.
Read the full story.

Emceed by WBEZ’s Nerdette Podcast hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnson, five of Chicago’s Arts and Sciences experts, including Vicky Kalogera, got just five minutes to spark imaginations with “en-lightning” ideas on May 10th. Co-hosted by The Phi Beta Kappa Society & The Phi Beta Kappa Association of the Chicago Area and held at the Chicago History Museum, over 200 members of the public enjoyed the talks, which were part of PBK’s Arts & Sciences Cities of Distinction program.
View the (En)Lightning Talks.

April 2016

Graduate student Michael Zevin interacted with about 30 visiting students in two sessions during Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day 2016 at Norris University Center. He explained how much can be learned about our universe using light, even light invisible to humans, and showcased Northwestern’s historic Dearborn Telescope. The students used spectral tubes and diffraction gratings to explore how light can tell us what makes up galaxies billions of lightyears away. Mike also introduced the concept of spacetime and the recent observation of gravitational waves to the young enthusiasts!

Representatives from the National Science Foundation Mathematical and Physical Sciences (NSF MPS) Directorate came to Northwestern April 21st in a site visit organized by Northwestern’s Office for Research. The directorate is visiting a select number of institutions in 2016 to better understand the scientific opportunities, research landscape, and workforces they impact. Graduate student Niharika Sravan was among the 18 students invited to present posters in the Silverman Hall atrium as part of the visit.
Read the full story on the NSF Site Visit.

To celebrate and highlight advanced research computing at Northwestern, the third annual Computational Research Day was held on April 19th. Highlights of the day included presentations from Northwestern researchers, guest speakers, the Visualization Challenge sponsored by NVIDIA and a poster session sponsored by CIERA and NICO (Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems). Physics and Astronomy graduate students Niharika Sravan and Mike Zevin presented posters. Mike took home the first prize of $1500 toward the conference of his choice for his poster on Gravity Spy and LIGO.
Read the full story on Computational Research Day.

February 2016

The National Science Foundation and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration have announced that their scientists have successfully, for the first time, directly detected gravitational waves – or ripples in the fabric of spacetime – using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). Learn why this discovery is important.

Through their dedicated research, CIERA faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students contributed to this momentous scientific discovery!

Go to the full Northwestern News Special Feature.
Read an interview with Vicky Kalogera from only one year ago with her thoughts about the search for gravitational waves.
Watch the 5 minute video in which Vicky Kalogera and Shane Larson explain the discovery.
Read the astrobites post by Mike Zevin. Astrobites is an online journal written by astronomy graduate students.
Learn more about LIGO, the collaboration of more than 1000 scientists worldwide who joined together in the search for gravitational waves.

2015 Group News

November 2015

Dr. Vicky Kalogera was elected to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation’s (LSSTC) Executive Board of Directors. In this capacity, Dr. Kalogera will participate in the oversight and administration of the Corporation.

Learn about the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

October 2015

Dr. Vicky Kalogera was awarded the 2016 Hans A. Bethe Prize from the American Physical Society (APS). The award recognizes outstanding work in theory, experiment or observation in the areas of astrophysics, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics or closely related fields. It is open to any scientist working in these areas, worldwide, and is presented annually by the APS divisions of astrophysics and nuclear physics. Dr. Kalogera will be honored with the Bethe prize at a recognition ceremony during the April, 2016 meeting of the APS. The Bethe is the only astrophysics prize within the APS. Dr. Kalogera’s citation reads, “For key contributions to the study of the electromagnetic and gravitational wave radiation from binary compact objects, including the now-verified prediction that neutron star mergers produce short gamma-ray bursts that will be found in all galaxy types.”

Go to the Northwestern News story on Dr. Kalogera’s honor. Read about Dr. Kalogera’s background in two recent interviews: Northwestern University’s Office for Research Newsletter and STEM Women on Fire web site.

October 1 – 3, 2015, CIERA hosted the Midwest Relativity Meeting (MRM) with over 100 participants from across North America, including some of the leading experts in the country on the theory of relativity. The annual MRM aims to bring together researchers from across the Midwest and beyond to discuss general relativity and a broad range of topics in gravitational physics (classical and quantum gravity, numerical relativity, relativistic astrophysics, cosmology, gravitational waves, and experimental gravity). View the Scientific Program from the 2015 MRM.

September 2015

Despite intermittently cloudy skies, over 1,700 people joined CIERA faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students to watch the total lunar eclipse on Sunday night, September 27th, 2015.  Setting up three telescopes on the top floor of the Segal Visitors Center on the south campus of Evanston, CIERA volunteers welcomed Northwestern students & staff and members of the public to take part in this event. View the Northwestern News eclipse story and the Daily Northwestern eclipse story.

Niharika Sravan was invited by physics teacher Katie Page to speak at Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect, IL. Mrs. Page runs the Women in STEM club, which includes a speaker series aimed at inspiring young women to pursue their interests in the science fields.

Each quarter, Mrs. Page invites a panel of guest speakers to come and talk to Prospect’s high school girls about the speakers’ educational backgrounds, professions, how they got into their STEM fields, and “what it’s really like.” View the Chicago Tribune story about the Prospect High School Women in STEM Club.

August 2015

CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera spoke to nearly 40 Office for Research staff members at NU Knowledge at Noon, a faculty research presentation series. The series is designed to allow staff to learn directly from Northwestern faculty about the exciting research that takes place at our institution. The series also aims to foster connections across Office for Research staff by providing the opportunity for them to meet in person.

In her talk, “NU Astronomy: Big Data, Telescope Innovation, and the Cosmos,” Dr. Kalogera covered a brief history of astronomy, but she focused mainly on the very near future: the importance of big data and the value of two large, related initiatives, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

May 2015

Summer Undergraduate Research Grant Recipients
Funded by Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences:
Jessie Duncan, Anya Kogan, and Ben Sandeen (Advisor: Vicky Kalogera) Funded by the Office of Undergraduate Research:
Chase Kimball (Advisor: Vicky Kalogera)

NASA Illinois Space Grant Consortium Recipient

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Project Winner:
Leah Perri (Advisor: Vicky Kalogera)
Academic Year Grant Winner, Undergraduate scholarship: Leah Perri

April 2015

The National Science Foundation has awarded a prestigious Graduate Fellowship to Kyle Kremer; Kyle worked with Professor Vicky Kalogera as an undergraduate student at Northwestern, and will be rejoin CIERA and the Department of Physics & Astronomy in the Fall as a graduate student. Congratulations Kyle!

A Northwestern team led by CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera has been awarded a 5-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help train graduate students in the interdisciplinary fields of data analytics and Big Data. The program, entitled “From the Earth and the Universe to the Successful Careers of the Future”, was one of only eight proposals funded across the country, out of approximately 240 proposals that were received by the NSF. Professor Kalogera and her team designed a two-year graduate certificate program that includes, for example, the Big Data challenges of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, and the EarthScope seismic observatory project. The program will also give graduate students the chance to improve their communication skills, learn about parallel programming and visualization, and take part in summer internships at national labs and in industry. Over the 5-year duration, the program with provide graduate fellowships for 35 students selected from a wide range of existing PhD programs.

The NSF highlighted this and other Research Traineeship awards in a press release.

March 2015

Two new group members will be joining us in September as postdocs: Laura Sampson and Chris Pankow will both join our LIGO research group. Laura comes from Montana State University is an expert in Bayesian statistics, parameter estimation and model selection for gravitational-wave sources in connection to both interferometric detectors and pulsar-timing arrays. Chris is an expert in a wide range of methods for gravitational-wave signal searches from both burst and binary coalescence events. As Advanced LIGO starts observations this coming Fall we are looking forward to welcoming them both to our group!

February 2015

A new paper “On the Formation of Ultraluminous X-ray Sources with Neutron Star Accretors: the Case of M82 X-2” by Tassos Fragos (Geneva Observatory), Tim Linden (U Chicago), Vicky Kalogera (Northwestern), and Panos Sklias (Geneva Observatory) is now accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Vicky with her past students and now collaborators, Tassos and Tim, and Tassos’ student Panos consider the newly discovered ultraluminous X-ray source M82 X-2, which surprised us by revealing a neutron star accretor instead of the typically assumed intermediate-mass black hole. The team found that, as long as mass-transfer from the massive companion is non-conservative, the system is consistent with expectations from population synthesis models of high-mass X-ray binaries.

LIGO Generations, a new film documenting the history of gravitational wave astronomy and the dramatic next phase about to unfold with Advanced LIGO, was released just last week. It can be watched online.
Accompanying the film, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration will host a web AMA (“Ask me anything”) session on the reddit r/science channel starting Friday February 13th at 12:00 pm CST.

January 2015

We are happy to announce a Public Outreach activity we are launching within CIERA for the duration of 2015. These events are inspired by the 100 year anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Guests will have the opportunity to meet CIERA postdoctoral associates, graduate and undergraduate students on the last Friday of every month at Dearborn Observatory on the Northwestern campus. They will discuss their research, share some exciting visualizations, and answer questions.
You can find further details here. We look forward to seeing you there!
Read Full story from Northwestern News.

2014 Group News

November 2014

Northwestern University and Evanston Township High School (ETHS) share more than just the Evanston community; they also work together on a variety of education programs to help inspire students. A  `Kits and Cats’ celebration, to be held on Northwestern’s campus on Thursday night, November 13th, will highlight and further strengthen those connections. A great example of collaboration between Northwestern (the “Cats”) and ETHS (the “Kits”) is CIERA’s NSF/NU “Reach for the Stars” program. This program connects graduate students to high-school teachers at ETHS and throughout Chicago; it is led by CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera, and managed by Program Director Michelle Paulsen with help from OSEP Director Kemi Jona and Assistant Professor Darren Gergle

August 2014

The fifth issue of LIGO Magazine is now available for download. This issue celebrates the major milestone of the first full lock being achieved. It also contains articles about the Transmission Monitor Suspension Telescope, what life is like at the Louisiana LIGO site, and an interview with Kai Staats, the creator of the documentary “LIGO: A passion for understanding.” Former Northwestern postdoctoral fellow Diego Fazi and others talk about their careers and what they have done after working with LIGO in the article “Life after LIGO”. There is also a feature on former CIERA graduate student Ben Farr’s thesis defense. Past issues of LIGO magazine can be found online.

July 2014

Prof. Vicky Kalogera, was elected as the astrophysics trustee, among only nine trustees, of the NSF-funded Aspen Center for Physics on July 9. The ACP is a center for physicists that offers long-term workshops, conferences, and research opportunities for those invited to attend. ACP Trustees provide overall scientific, financial, and administrative guidance; typically, only one or at most two astrophysics positions open up every decade. Congratulations, Vicky!

June 2014

CIERA is pleased to host a group of talented student researchers this summer. Among these students, nine have been awarded funding from Weinberg College and NASA’s Illinois Space Grant Consortium. The two students from Vicky Kalogera’s graoup are listed below, with their projects:

  • Leah Perri “Characterizing Astrophysical Parameter Estimation Capabilities of LIGO”
  • Ben Sandeen “Gravitational Waves and Black Hole/Neutron Star Binary Systems”

A recent paper co-authored by Ben Farr (Graduate Student), Will Farr (former Postdoctoral Fellow) and Ilya Mandel (former member of Vicky Kalogera’s research group) received a positive review on Astrobites. The paper that was reviewed is entitled “The First Two Years of Electromagnetic Follow-Up with Advanced LIGO and Virgo”; the review can be found here.

May 2014

Scotty Coughlin, an undergraduate student who has been working in Vicky Kalogera’s LIGO group, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. Starting in September 2014, the award will allow Coughlin to pursue LIGO-related at Cardiff University in Wales. There he will work with Professor Patrick Sutto. It is estimated that this year the Fulbright U.S. Student Program will have awarded scholarships to 48 of the 938 students who applied to study in the United Kingdom. At Cardiff, Scotty will be pursuing a Masters of Philosophy in Gravitational Waves Physics. He will develop a dedicated low latency, i.e. quick turnaround, supernova detection pipeline, to catch the next Galactic core-collapse supernova and determine the explosion mechanism.

CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera was featured in a Weinberg Magazine article entitled “Staying in Stem – Encouraging Women to Persist in Math and Science”. The article interviews female Northwestern faculty members about their experience as women pursuing careers in male-dominated STEM fields. Each faculty member interviewed cites examples of the lack of female role models in their field. Kalogera specifically mentions that she never had a female physics professor. Though studies have shown that women are no less capable than men in STEM fields, young girls are still getting the mistaken message that boys are better at math and science. In addition, girls are generally not raised to stand up for themselves or their work; this combative skill is essential in the scientific world: researchers are frequently called upon the defend their work and must compete for top positions. Kalogera also mentions that the lack of balance can come from the female scientists themselves when it comes to seeking a position: she cites the example of women not applying for a postdoc position or waiting until her husband has a position and then applying at his institution. Also, culturally, it can be more comfortable for a woman to stay at home and raise a family for a few years while their partner works.
Kalogera points out that she does not think the discrepancy or discrimination of women in STEM fields is intentional. She says that “there’s a long history of discrimination that, up until rather recently, was accepted and considered normal. It’s hard to get rid of that over one or two generations.” In the full article Kalogera and her colleagues stress the need for women to continue to pursue careers in STEM fields. Kalogera states, “we can’t change the effects of this (gender disparity in STEM) without making people aware of the magnitude of the problem.”
Read Full Article.

Congratulations to Ben Farr of successfully defending his thesis on Monday May 4th. Ben was a Graduate student with Vicky Kalogera’s group and his thesis was entitled “Extracting Astrophysical Information from the Gravitational Waves of Compact Binary Mergers and Their Electromagnetic Counterparts.” It focused on the development and validation of data analysis tools that will be used to characterize compact binary mergers from the gravitational waves they emit. These tools will be used to analyze the data coming from the newly upgraded LIGO and Virgo ground-based gravitational wave detectors coming online starting next year.

April 2014

You can now get an inside look at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) team and instrument with the, documentary, “LIGO — A Passion for Understanding“, released April 15th at  Watch the documentary to learn more about the instrument which uses two and a half mile-long laser beams to detect cataclysmic cosmic events which occurred trillions of miles from Earth. You will also learn about the LIGO Scientific Collaboration: a group of almost a thousand scientists from all across the globe seeking to make the first direct detection of gravitational waves.  As a part of that team, CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera, has built a gravitational-wave astrophysics group consisting of Postdoctoral Associate Tyson Littenberg, Graduate Student Ben Farr, and a team of undergraduate students. Together, they are developing develop cutting-edge methods to help us understand black holes from the complex data produced by LIGO.

March 2014

Graduate Student Ben Farr, who works in Professor Vicky Kalogera‘s group, has been awarded the Robert R. McCormick Fellowship at the University of Chicago. He will start his work there on July 1st, focusing on gravitational-wave astronomy, and in particular, on the detection and characterization of compact binary mergers from their gravitational-wave and electromagnetic signatures.

2013 Group News

October 2013

Graduate student Ben Farr received the “Blue Apple Award” at this year’s Midwest Relativity Meeting for the best student presentation at the meeting. Ben’s talk was entitled “A Hierarchical Approach to Rapid Gravitational Wave Parameter Estimation”, and described his work on quickly and accurately extracting new constraints on compact objects from future gravitational-wave detections.

Nick Cowan, CIERA Postdoctoral Fellow, will speak as part of Chicago Ideas Week. His talk will be in the “Scientific Breakthroughs: Infinite Possibilities” series on Tuesday October 15th (12:00pm-1:30pm; tickets available at the Chicago Ideas Week website), and will touch on his research in exoplanet climates and exo-cartography.

September 2013

The new issue of LIGO Magazine is now available for download. The issue contains several articles on the topic of “squeezed light” and its history in the gravitational wave community. The first and second issues (also available) contained articles about building Advanced LIGO and about observing black holes in LIGO, respectively. The second issue included “Black Holes in Advanced LIGO: the observational payoff” by Ilya Mandel (a previous CIERA Postdoc) and Ben Farr (currently a graduate student in CIERA).

July 2013

Vicky Kalogera addresses the mystery of black hole masses in ‘Sky and Telescope’ Magazine ‘What keeps you up at night?’ That’s the kind of question that Sky & Telescope magazine asked top astronomers for its special edition magazine: ‘Astronomy’s 60 Greatest Mysteries‘. CIERA Director Vicky Kalogera‘s article addressed the unanswered question of “How light or heavy can a black hole be?”. In the article, she discusses ongoing research to understand the upper and lower bounds of the mass of black holes. Find the full article in Sky and Telescope.

May 2013

Vivien Raymond wins international Stefano Braccini Prize for his thesis. Every year, the gravitational-wave community gives the Stefano Braccini Prize for the best thesis on gravitational waves and related subjects (either theoretical or experimental). This year was exceptional in that two prizes were given; one of those prizes was awarded to our own Vivien Raymond for his thesis “Parameter Estimation Using Markov Chain Monte Carlo Methods for Gravitational Waves from Spinning Inspirals of Compact Objects“; Vivien was a student of Professor Vicky Kalogera. He is now the Richard Chase Tolman Postdoctoral Scholar in Experimental Physics at the California Institute of Technology.

April 2013

A Day with Northwestern April 20, 2013. Join fellow alumni, friends, and current students for this all-day seminar featuring prominent faculty and alumni speaking on a variety of timely topics. Choose from 14 lectures to personalize your class schedule and enjoy engaging discussions with alumni and friends.
Prof. Vicky Kalogera, E. O. Haven Professor of Physics & Astronomy and Director for CIERA, will be presenting in the afternoon session (1:45 – 2:45pm).
NU Astronomy: Listening to Black Holes
What are black holes? How can we be sure they exist? About a century ago, Einstein developed the now-accepted theory of gravity, known as General Relativity; black holes were predicted by that theory, and 40 years ago astronomers found some indirect evidence for their existence. However, it is now anticipated that direct proof of black holes will be found before the end of this decade: astronomers at Northwestern and the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) are involved in a race for the first direct detection of a new type of wave emission that originates strong from black holes. Dr. Kalogera will discuss this sound-like emission and how it will open a brand-new window onto the extreme universe of black holes and the warped space and time around them.

2012 Group News

December 2012

Dr. Francesca Valsecchi has been named a “Young Star” of the American Physical Society’s Division of Astrophysics! Francesca has been selected for this early career recognition award in appreciation of her research on the interactions of stars in binary-star systems. For this award, she will give an invited talk as part of the Division of Astrophysics’ 2013 Early Career Recognition Lectures at a special session of the 2013 April meeting of the American Physical Society.

Francesca joined the Ph.D. program in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, working on high energy physics with Prof. Bruno Gobbi. One year after, she joined Prof. Vicky Kalogera‘s group in CIERA and began working on theoretical astrophysics. Francesca received her doctorate in September 2012. Her thesis was titled, “Compact Objects In Binary Systems: Formation and Evolution of X-ray Binaries and Tides in Double White Dwarfs”.

She is currently continuing her research at Northwestern University as a postdoctoral associate, working with Prof. Fred Rasio and Prof. Kalogera.

Congratulations, Francesca!

October 2012

Prof. Vicky Kalogera was appointed as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, Germany.

The Institute’s scientific advisory and assessment Board is made up of internationally renowned physicists. The Board advises the President of the Max Planck Society (MPG) on how effectively the Directors are managing the work of the Institute. Their advice helps the Directors to establish priorities and improve their management. The Scientific Advisory Board is the main tool used by the MPG to evaluate its research institutes to ensure appropriate and effective development of funds. Every two years the members of the Board meet for several days to evaluate the Institute and to prepare a report to the President of the MPG.

August 2012

After three years as a CIERA post-doctoral associate, Dr. Diego Fazi will be moving to a new post-doctoral pos1ition in the Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division at the Argonne National Laboratory. At CIERA, and as a graduate student, Diego studied gravitational-wave astronomy: he worked with high-performance computers to understand how the motions and collisions of stars can generate waves in the fabric of space and time, via gravity.

At Argonne, he will channel his computational and applied math skills into pursuing his passion for renewable energies: Diego will be working on the development of fuels that can be created using solar energy. (One of the most famous examples of this process is using solar power to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, to isolate hydrogen as a fuel.) Of course, if we can make fuels using solar power, those fuels will help us to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But, to produce large quantities of these fuels, engineers need specially designed substances called catalysts that help speed the production of the fuel. Diego will be using high-performance computers, and his experience with algorithms developed for gravitational-wave studies, to analyze X-ray measurements of these catalysts and understand their structure. His work on these catalysts will help scientists make progress towards the goal of developing new, abundant, renewable energy sources for the world.

June 2012

Kyle Kremer was awarded honors for his outstanding research, “Spin Tilts in the Double Pulsar Reveal Supernova Spin Angular-Momentum Production”.

Dan Stevens was awarded honors for his outstanding research, “Interpolation Techniques for MCMC Parameter Estimation on Compact Binary Coalescence Graviational-Wave Signals” and received the “Outstanding Senior Thesis in Physics and Astronomy” award for 2012!.

Carl Rodriguez received honorable mention (joint second place) and a 100-euro prize at the GWPAW 2012 meeting! Poster Title: “Inadequacies of the Fisher Matrix in the Advanced Detector Era”. More details here.

CIERA-led Paper Predicts Collision Rates for Stars, Becomes Most-Cited in its Journal

Predictions for the Rates of Compact Binary Coalescences Observable by Ground-Based Gravitational-Wave Detectors, written by Dr. Ilya Mandel, Prof. Vicky Kalogera, since being published in 2010, this paper has been so useful that is has become the most highly cited paper in the prominent journal Classical and Quantum Gravity over the past two years, and was the 3rd most-downloaded paper in that journal in 2010, and has also been highlighted by the journal’s editors in their own summary of the best papers in 2010-2011.

More details about this article can be found here.

May 2012

Alex Ayerdi has been awarded a Weinberg Undergraduate Research Grant in the amount of $3000.00. His specific research consists of learning about and implementing the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) to optimize the processing time of data coming from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). More info here.

Kevin Broh-Kahn, has been awarded a Northwestern University Summer Undergraduate Research Grant. Congratulations Kevin! The title of his independent research project is: “Performance and Data Analysis of Parallel Monte Carlo Algorithm for Simulating Dense Stellar Systems”.

Ben Farr, Physics & Astronomy graduate student, an NSF Graduate Fellow, and a member of Prof. Vicky Kalogera’s group, has been elected Student Representative for the American Physical Society’s Topical Group in Gravitation. The names of all 2012 GGR officers are here. Here is a little more information about the Topical Group in Gravitation.

Kyle Kremer, will be presenting a talk titled “Spin Tilts in the Double Pulsar Reveal Supernova Spin Angular-Momentum Production” at the Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition – Monday, May 21st! The talk will be part of the Developments and Innovations in Science and Engineering panel which takes place from 1pm-2:30pm in the Lake Room on the second floor of Norris. More details here.

Dan Stevens, will be presenting his poster, Interpolation Techniques for MCMC Parameter Estimation on Compact Binary Coalescence Gravitational-wave Signals, in Louis 205 (Norris) in the afternoon session, 2:30-4. More details here.

“Predictions for the Rates of Compact Binary Coalescences Observable by Ground-Based Gravitational-Wave Detectors” becomes most-cited in its journal, Classical and Quantum Gravity. Click here for more details.

February 2012

Dr. Tyson Littenberg accepts offer for a research postdoctoral position in our gravitational-wave group, a group member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Tyson will join us following his postdoctoral position at the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Flight Center. His primary research will focus on extracting physical information from LIGO/Virgo gravitational-wave signals.

Graduate student Vivien Raymond accepted an offer for the Richard Chase Tolman Postdoctoral fellowship in Experimental Physics; he will be moving to Caltech following his PhD graduation in Summer 2012. He works in Kalogera’s research group on physical parameter estimation of gravitational waves from binary coalescence with spinning compact objects within the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Congratulations Vivien!

Dan Stevens has been selected to receive the J. G. Nolan Scholarship for the 2011-2012 academic year. The scholarship money is replacing funds from another financial aid grant that NU gave to Dan previously, so it’s being applied towards tuition (and the like) for the Winter and Spring Quarter.

January 2012

Tsing Wai Wong, a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, won a CIC – Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellowship! Tsing Wai is a member of Prof. Vicky Kalogera’s research group. Tsing Wai is 1 of 6 students to be awarded this fellowship. He will receive a stipend of $30,000 for one year, and conduct research at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). He will work with Dr. Jeffrey E. McClintockand Dr. Ramesh Narayan at the SAO, who will be his research adviser and co-adviser. His fellowship starts on Aug 1, 2012 and ends on July 31, 2013. He will work on modeling the observed X-ray binaries in our Galaxy, which all host a black hole. The goal is to find out the progenitor mass of the black hole and the possible momentum kick imparted to the black hole during its formation through a core collapse event. He will also work on the hydrodynamics simulation of core collapse supernova to check whether the current core collapse theory can match the results he found in modeling the observed X-ray binaries. He will collaborate with Dr. Chris Fryer of the Los Alamos National Laboratory for the hydrodynamics simulations of core collapse.

Kyle Kremer, a senior double-majoring in Physics and Trumpet Performance (trumpet and flugelhorn), and a Goldwater Scholar and a Robert C. Byrd Scholar, has won the Churchill Scholarship! Kyle conducts research on compact objects in binary systems in Prof. Vicky Kalogera’s group. With the Churchill Scholarship, Kyle will be pursuing a Masters of Advanced Study degree in theoretical astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. Kyle is 1 of 14 students across the United States who won this prestigious award. The Churchill Scholarship will pay all of his University and College fees (approximately $25,000), a living allowance of £13,000 for the twelve-month program, up to $1,000 for one round trip airfare from the United States to the United Kingdom, the cost of his student visa for the United Kingdom, and an additional travel stipend of $500.00. He is also eligible for a Special Research Grant of up to $2,000. Kyle will do a Master of Advanced Study in Astronomy, a new program where he will combine courses in Astrophysics and Mathematics with research in astrophysical fluid dynamics and accretion discs. After Cambridge, Kyle plans to do a doctorate in Theoretical Astrophysics in the United States. For a story from the Northwestern University NewsCenter, see Trumpeting a Music/Science Combo. The TribLocal also did a story on Kyle. See Northwestern music student hits high note with astrophysics. Congratulations Kyle!

2011 Group News

December 2011

CIERA Co-Director, Prof. Vicky Kalogera, is awarded a Simons Foundation Fellowship in Theoretical Physics for her research proposal entitled “Decoding Gravitational-Wave Signals from Compact Object Mergers”. The Fellowship will support a full-year sabbatical leave away from teaching and service work and will allow her to focus on research initiatives within the interdisciplinary environment fostered by CIERA. Per the Foundation’s guidelines “awards are based on the applicant’s scientific accomplishment in the five-year period preceding the application and on a judgment of the potential scientific impact of the leave period.” The Foundation makes up to 20 awards in all areas of theoretical physics each year. More details here.

May 2011

Professor Kalogera’s undergraduate student Michael Tremmel won third place in the Nautral Science and Engineering category in this year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, with his poster “The Evolution of X-Ray Binaries on Cosmological Timescales”. You can read his full presentation abstract here.

Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro and Evanston mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl got a glimpse of the benefits of a unique new collaboration between the University and local schools this week. They watched Northwestern graduate students, including Professor Kalogera’s graduate student Ben Farr, teach Evanston Township High School (ETHS) students about cutting-edge scientific research as part of Northwestern’s Reach for the Stars program in local schools. Continue reading at the SESP website.

CIERA’s research into black holes has been featured in a video produced for the Big Ten Network. In the clip, a look is given to both the teaching and research aspects of CIERA. Professor Vicky Kalogera and Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, along with graduate students Francesca Valsecchi and Meagan Morscher, offer insight into the stellar phenomenum known as black holes. Graduate student Ben Farr is profiled for his work in teaching students at Evanston Township Highschool about black holes as part of his work with the Reach for the Stars! program.

April 2011

Ben Farr and Carl Rodriguez, two students in Prof. Kalogera’s group. have been accepted into the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Daniel Stevens has been awarded a Northwestern Undergraduate Research Grant for Summer 2011. The grant is awarded in support of outstanding and novel research projects of a student’s own design. Daniel is a junior pursuing a major in Physics and Astronomy and in Mathematics and does research in Prof. Kalogera’s group.

Kyle Kremer has received a 2011 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of two awarded to Northwestern undergraduates. Each year this prize scholarship recognizes the 300 most outstanding undergraduate students pursuing careers in Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Engineering in the United States. Kyle is a junior pursuing a major in Physics and Astronomy and in Music Performance (trumpet) and does research on compact objects in binary systems in Prof. Kalogera’s group.

2009 Group News

July 2009

A Special Traveling Exhibit titled Catch A New Wave: Gravitational Wave Astronomy as a Porbe of the Universe is at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum (in partnership with Northwestern, its Center for Interdiciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration) from July 10 – August 10, 2009.

Vivien Raymond gave a talk titled “Accurate parameter estimation of spinning compact binary inspirals: Markov-chain Monte Carlo applied to LIGO gravitational-wave signals” at the Numerical Relativity and Data Analysis Meeting in Potsdam, Germany on July 6-9, 2009.

June 2009

Vivien Raymond gave a poster titled “Accurate parameter estimation of spinning compact-object binaries: Markov-Chain Monte-Carlo applied to LIGO gravitational-wave signals” at the 8th Edoardo Maladin Conference on Gravitational Waves in New York, New York on June 21-26, 2009.

Vicky Kalogera gave an Invited Session Introduction titled “Extreme Objects in the Universe” for the German-American Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium at the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung and U.S. National Academy of Sciences, at Beckman Center, Irvine, California, June 4-7, 2009.

Vicky Kalogera gave a Physics and Astronomy Colloquium titled “Binary Compact Objects and their Powerfull Astrophysics” at the University of California at Irvine on June 4, 2009.

Marc van der Sluys gave a talk titled “Bayesian inference in the CBC follow-up pipeline” at the LSC-Virgo Collaboration meeting in Orsay, France on June 4, 2009.

Ilya Mandel was interviewed for an article titled “Searching for Einstein” on the Medill Reports – Chicago website on June 4, 2009.

May 2009

Jeff Andrews gave a talk titled “A Population Synthesis Analysis of Double Neutron Stars” at the Northwestern Undergraduate Research Symposium on May 26, 2009.

Andrew Loveridge presented a poster titled “A Simple Prescription for Envelope Binding Energy” at the Northwestern Undergraduate Research Symposium on May 26, 2009.

Tassos Fragos gave the WUNCH seminar titled “Models of X-ray Binaries: Galactic and Extra-galactic Populations” at the Department of Astronomy of Princeton University, on May 13th, 2009.

Tassos Fragos gave the Astro-Tea seminar titled “Models of X-ray Binaries: Galactic and Extra-galactic Populations” at the Department of Astronomy of the California Institute of Technology, on May 11th, 2009.

Tassos Fragos gave a seminar titled “Models of X-ray Binaries: Galactic and Extra-galactic Populations” at the Department of Astronomy of University of California at Berkeley, on May 6th, 2009.

Francesca Valsecchi, Emmanouela Rantsiou, Sourav Chatterjee and Ilya Mandel judged the projects presented by Chicago Public School students at the Meaningful Science Consortium Project Showcase and gave the students a tour of Dearborn Observatory.

Tassos Fragos has been nominated by the Department of Physics and Astronomy to be featured in The Graduate School’s Research Highlights – a section of the Northwestern University website dedicated to promoting the research being done by NU students.

Vicky Kalogera has been promoted to full professor! Congratulations!

April 2009

Vicky Kalogera gave a talk titled “Binary Compact Objects and their Powerful Astrophysics” at The Ohio State University, on April 23, 2009.

Tassos Fragos gave a seminar titled “Models of X-ray Binaries: Galactic and Extra-galactic Populations” at the Institute of Theory and Computation of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, on April 7, 2009.

Ilya Mandel presented a talk titled “Gravitational Waves from Binary Systems Containing Intermediate-Mass Black Holes” on behalf of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration at the IMBH Workshop in Irvine, California on April 2, 2009.

Undergraduate senior Jeff Andrews has decided to join the Astronomy graduate program at Columbia University, choosing among other offers. Congratulations Jeff!

Two of our research undergraduate students, Andrew Loveridge and Michael Tremmel, have been awarded a NU Undergraduate Research Grant in support of their research work in the summer 2009. Andrew works with postdoctoral associate Marc van der Sluys on common-envelope evolution and Michael works with Vicky Kalogera on models of X-ray binaries in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Congratulations Andrew and Michael!

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Energy Dissipation through Quasi-Static Tides in White Dwarf Binaries
B. Willems, C.J. Deloye, & V. Kalogera

Vicky Kalogera, Ilya Mandel, Francesca Valsecchi, Vivien Raymond, Michael Tremmel, and Jeff Andrews participated in our special event on April 4, 2009 that was part of the 100 Hours of Astronomy a celebration of the International Year of Astronomy. Nearly 200 visitors attended and viewed Saturn and the Moon, listened to presentations by our astronomers and had a wonderful time!

March 2009

Jeremy Sepinsky has taken a position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Scranton. Congratulations!

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Interacting Binaries with Eccentric Orbits II. Secular Orbital Evolution Due To Non-Conservative Mass Transfer
J. Sepinsky, B. Willems, V. Kalogera, & F.A. Rasio

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters:

Observing Gravitational Waves from the First Generation of Black Holes
A. Sesana, J. Gair, I. Mandel & A. Vecchio

Francesca Valsecchi and Emmanouela Rantsiou participated in the Society of Physics Students “Physics and Astronomy Research Art Gallery” on March 30-31, 2009. Their images can be found here.

Marc van der Sluys gave a talk titled: “Magnetic capture and the CV formation channel for AM CVn stars” at Wild Stars in the Old West II in Tucson, Arizona on March 17, 2009.

February 2009

Ilya Mandel gave a talk titled “Compact binaries as sources for ground-based gravitational-wave detectors” at the University of Southampton on February 26, 2009.

January 2009

Jeremy Sepinsky successfully defended his PhD dissertation titled “Orbital Evolution of Eccentric Interacting Binary Star Systems” on January 26th. Congratulations!

A new paper has been submitted to Classical & Quantum Gravity:

Testing Gravitational-wave Searches with Numerical Relativity Waveforms: Results from the First Numerical INJection Analysis (NINJA) Project
B. Aylott, et al.

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters:

Transient Low-Mass X-Ray Binary Populations in Elliptical Galaxies NGC 3379 and NGC 4278
T. Fragos, V. Kalogera, B. Willems, K. Belczynski, G. Fabbiano, N.J. Brassington, D.-W. Kim, L. Angelini, R.L. Davies, J.S. Gallagher, A.R. King, S. Pellegrini, G. Trincheieri, S.E. Zepf, & A. Zezas.

Ilya Mandel presented a poster titled “Can we detect intermediate-mass-ratio inspirals?” at GWDAW-13 in San Juan, Puerto Rico on January 19-22, 2009.

Marc van der Sluys presented a poster titled “Gravitational-wave astronomy using Markov-chain Monte-Carlo parameter estimation for compact binary inspirals with spinning objects” at GWDAW-13 in San Juan, Puerto Rico on January 19-22, 2009.

Ilya Mandel presented a poster titled “Can we detect intermediate-mass-ratio inspirals?” at the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Long Beach, California on January 6, 2009.

2008 Group News

December 2008

Ilya Mandel gave a HEP/Astrophysics seminar titled “Prospects in Gravitational-Wave Astronomy” at Purdue University on December 2, 2008.

A new paper has been submitted to Classical and Quantum Gravity: “Degeneracies in Sky Localisation Determination from a Spinning Coalescing Binary through Gravitational Wave Observations: a Markov-Chain Monte-Carlo Analysis for two Detectors” by V. Raymond, M. van der Sluys, I. Mandel, V. Kalogera, C. Roever, N. Christensen.

Ilya Mandel, Francesca Valsecchi, Manou Rantisou, and Meagan Morscher manned a booth titled “The Wonders of the Night Sky: The Life and Death of Stars” at the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School’s science fair in Park Ridge, Illinois on Friday, December 5. They passed out some great education materials from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, and had a terrific time! You can see what a wonderful time they had here.

November 2008

A new paper has been accepted for publication at the “New Astronomy” journal “A multiphysics and multiscale software environment for modeling astrophysical systems” by S.P. Zwart, S. McMillan, S. Harfst, D. Groen, M. Fuji, B. O’Nuallain, E. Glebbeek, D. Heggie, J. Lombardi, P. Hut, V. Angelou, S. Banerjee, H. Belkus, T. Fragos, J. Fregeau, E. Gaburov, R. Izzard, M. Juric, S. Justham, A. Sottoriva, P. Teuben, J. van Bever, O. Yaron, & M. Zemp.

Francesca Valsecchi gave a talk titled “M33 X-7, The First Eclipsing Black Hole X-Ray Binary“at “Hot and Cool: Bridging Gaps in Massive Star Evolution” at Caltech in Pasadena, CA on November 10-12,2008.

Vicky Kalogera was elected a Fellow of the Americal Physical Society.

A new paper has been submitted to Classical and Quantum Gravity: “Can we Detect Intermediate Mass Ratio Inspirals?” by Ilya Mandel and Jonathan Gair.

A new paper has been submitted to Classical and Quantum Gravity: “Massive Black Hole Binary Inspirals: Results from the LISA Parameter Estimation Taskforce” by K. Arun, S. Babak, E. Berti, N. Cornish, C. Cutler, J. Gair, S. Hughes, B. Iyer, R. Lang, I. Mandel, E. Porter, B. Sathyaprakash, S. Sinha, A. Sintes, M. Trias, C. van den Broeck, M. Volonteri.

October 2008

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Supplements “Deep Chandra Monitoring Observations of NGC 4278: Catalog of Source Properties” by N.J Brassington, G. Fabbiano, D.-W. Kim, A. Zezas, S. Zepf, A. Kundu, L. Angelini, R.L. Davies, J. Gallagher, V. Kalogera, T. Fragos, A.R. King, S. Pellegrini & G. Trincheri.

Vicky Kalogera gave a Colloquium titled “Black Holes and Neutron Stars: From Explosive Birth to Powerful Mergers“at A Goddard SFC, on October 17, 2008.

Tassos Fragos gave a talk titled “Looking at the stars …through a supercomputer” at the presidential fellow retreat in Fontana, Wisconsin, on October 16th, 2008.

Vicky Kalogera was an Invited Panelist on the Discovery Panel at the Chicago NASA Future Fourm held at the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum on October 10, 2008.

Francesca Valsecchi presented a poster titled “M 33 X-7 The first Eclipsing Black Hole X-Ray Binary” at the Chicago NASA Future Fourm held at the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum on October 10, 2008.

Tassos Fragos Tassos Fragos presented a poster titled “Black Hole Formation: Progenitors and Kicks” at the Chicago NASA Future Fourm held at the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum on October 10, 2008.

September 2008

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal “Understanding Compact Ob ject Formation and Natal Kicks: II. The case of XTE J1118+480” by T. Fragos, B. Willems, V. Kalogera, N. Ivanova, G. Rockefeller, C. L. Fryer, & P. A. Young.

Tassos Fragos participated in the MODEST 8b workshop, at Amsterdam, the Netherlands, September 15 – 19, 2008.

Marc van der Sluys gave a talk titled “Formation of double white dwarfs and AM CVn stars” at the 2nd International Workshop on CVn Stars held in Cape Town, South Africa on September 2, 2008.

Ilya Mandel gave a seminar titled “Ground-based detection of gravitational waves from intermediate-mass-ratio inspirals” at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK on September 17, 2008.

August 2008

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters “Common Envelope Mergers Involving a Giant Star and a Stellar or Substellar Companion: A Possible Channel for the Formation of Single sdB Stars” by M. Politano, R. E. Taam, M. van der Sluys, & Bart Willems.

Vivien Raymond gave two talks at the NRDA 2008 Conference in Syracuse, NY on August 12, 2008:

Parameter estimation of spinning binary inspirals using Markov-chain Monte Carlo

 “Parameter estimation on NINJA data using MCMC

July 2008

Vicky Kalogera was featured in an article titled “10 Rising Stars of Astronomy” written by Daniel Pendick in Astronomy Magazine’s August 2008 Issue.

Also included in the article were: Joshua Bloom at UC Berkeley, Julie Castillo-Rogez at NASA’s JPL, Steven Furlanetto at UCLA, Scott Gaudi at Ohio State University, Kelsey Johnson at the University of Virginia, Lisa Kewley at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Eliot Quataert at UC Berkeley, Alice Shapley at UCLA and Tommaso Treu at UC Santa Barbara.

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters “Probing Electron-Capture Supernovae: X-Ray Binaries in Starbursts” by T. Linden, J. F. Sepinsky, V. Kalogera, & K. Belczynski.

June 2008

Jeremy Sepinsky is planning his graduation for the end of the summer as he has now accepted an attractive offer for what is almost his dream job: Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Scranton, right in the area where he was raised and discovered his love for science and physics. Congratulations!

Francesca Valsecchi presented a poster titled “M 33 X-7 The first Eclipsing Black Hole X-Ray Binary” at Frontiers in Numerical Gravitational Astrophysics in Erice, Italy from June 27 to July 5, 2008.

Tassos Fragos presented a poster titled “Black Hole Formation: Progenitors and Kicks” at Frontiers in Numerical Gravitational Astrophysics in Erice, Italy from June 27 to July 5, 2008.

May 2008

Tim Linden completed two separate Senior Honors Theses in his two majors: Physics and Astronomy and Integrated Science; both of his theses were selected for the Best Senior Thesis award in each of the majors. Double Congratulations!
Following graduation from Northwestern Tim will join UC at Santa Cruz for his graduate studies in Physics and Astronomy.

A new paper has been submitted to Classical & Quantum Gravity “Parameter Estimation of Spinning Binary Inspirals Using Markov-chain Monte Carlo” by M. v.d. Sluys, V. Raymond, I. Mandel, C. Rover, N. Christensen, V. Kalogera, R. Meyer, & A. Vecchio.
Tassos Fragos gave a talk titled “Low-Mass X-Ray Binary Models for Ellipticals NGC3379 and NGC4278” at “The X-ray Universe 2008” Symposium in Granada, Spain on May 29, 2008.

April 2008

A new paper has been submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society “Asymptotic Approximations of Low-Frequency Gravity Modes in Stars with a Convective Core and a Radiative Envelope” by J. Kaplan and B. Willems.

Vicky Kalogera has been chosen as the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences for the 2007-2008 academic year. Congratulations!

Tim Linden has chosen among several offers to pursue his graduate studies in astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Congratulations!

Vicky Kalogera gave a Colloquium titled “Compact Objects in Binaries” at the University of Chicago on April 30, 2008.

Vicky Kalogera gave the APS Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award Talk titled “Neutron Stars and Black Holes: Birth, Gamma-Ray Bursts, and Gravitational Waves” at the APS April Meeting on April 12-16, 2008.

Vicky Kalogera participated in a press conference on “The Smallest Black Hole” by Shaposhnikov and Titarchuk at the 10th AAS HEAD Meeting in Los Angeles on April 1, 2008. Vicky was quoted in several news reports as an outside expert on the topic:


March 2008

Tassos Fragos gave a talk titled “Black Hole Formation: Progenitors and Kicks“, at the 10th HEAD meeting, in Los Angeles, California, on March 31st, 2008.

Marc van der Sluys gave a Colloquium titled “Parameter estimation of spinning binary black-hole inspirals using MCMC” at Penn State University on March 27, 2008.

Bart Willems gave a Colloquium titled “Compact Oject Binaries: Stellar and Binary Evolution in the Gravitational Wave Era” at The University of North Texas on March 6, 2008.

Vicky Kalogera gave a Colloquium titled “Neutron Stars and Black Holes: Their Birth and the Detection of Gravitational Waves” at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece, on March 5, 2008.

February 2008

Ilya Mandel gave a talk titled “Ground-based detection of gravitational waves from intermediate-mass-ratio inspirals” at University of Winsconsin – Milwaukee on February 29, 2008.

Bart Willems gave a Colloquium titled “Compact Oject Binaries: Stellar and Binary Evolution in the Gravitational Wave Era” at RIT on February 22, 2008.

Bart Willems gave a Colloquium titled “Compact Oject Binaries: Stellar and Binary Evolution in the Gravitational Wave Era” at Georgia Tech on February 13, 2008.

January 2008

Vicky Kalogera gave an Invited Talk titled “The Birth of Neutron Stars and Black Holes” at the First Midwest Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, on January 19-20, 2008.

Jeremy Sepinsky gave a talk titled “Interacting Binaries with Eccentric Orbits: Ballistic Trajectories” at the 211th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Austin, Texas, on January 7-11, 2008.


2007 Group News

December 2007

Tassos Fragkos won a Northwestern University Presidential Fellowship. This award is a highly competitive and the most prestigious fellowship awarded by Northwestern University. Congratulations!

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

The lowest-mass stellar black holes: catastrophic death of neutron stars in gamma-ray bursts
K. Belczynski, R. O’Shaughnessy, V. Kalogera, F. Rasio, R. Taam, & T. Bulik

Vicky Kalogera presented a poster at the IAU Symposium 250 in Kauai, on December 10th, titled “Black Hole formation: Progenitors and Kicks”.

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Models for Low-Mass X-Ray Binaries in the Elliptical Galaxies NGC3379 and NGC4278: Comparison with Observations
T. Fragos, V. Kalogera, K. Belczynski, G. Fabbiano, D.-W. Kim, N. J. Brassington, L. Angelini, R. L. Davies, J. S. Gallagher, A. R. King, S. Pellegrini, G. Trinchieri, S. E. Zepf, & A. Zezas

Ilya Mandel gave a talk at the Gravitational-Wave Data Analysis Workshop in Cambridge, MA, on December 15, titled “Extracting Extreme-Mass-Ratio Inspiral Parameters via Time-Frequency Methods”.

November 2007

Vicky Kalogera gave a talk at “A Population Explosion: The Nature and Evolution of X-ray Binaries in Diverse Environments” in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida on November 2, with the title “Low-Mass X-Ray Binary Models for Ellipticals NGC3379 and NGC4278“.

Ilya Mandel gave a talk at the Midwest Relativity Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri on November 3, with the title “Black Hole Spins following Minor Mergers“.

Vicky Kalogera, Jeremy Sepinsky and Jeff Chilcote manned a booth titled “The Wonders of the Night Sky: The Life and Death of Stars” at the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School’s science fair in Park Ridge, Illinois on Friday, November 30. They talked to students about the Chandra Observatory and how Chandra has helped scientists understand the lifecycle of stars, passed out some great education materials from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, and had a terrific time! You can see what a wonderful time they had here.

October 2007

Tassos Fragos passed his PhD Candidacy exam – Congratulations!

Vicky Kalogera has been awarded The American Physical Society’s 2008 Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award. This award was given:

“For her fundamental contributions to the study of the evolution and fate of compact objects in binary systems, focusing on their observations via X-rays and on their importance for gravitational wave detectors.”

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters:

Gravitational-Wave Astronomy with Inspiral Signals of Spinning Compact-Object Binaries
M.V. van der Sluys, C. Roever, A. Stroeer, N. Christensen, V. Kalogera, R. Meyer, & A. Vecchio

September 2007

Tassos Fragos gave a talk at the “X-rays from Nearby Galaxies” conference in Madrid, Spain, on September 7th, with title: “Low-Mass X-ray Binary Models for ellipticals NGC3379 and NGC4278”.

Tassos Fragos presented a poster at the 8th Hellenic Astronomical Conference in Thassos, Greece, on September 13th, with title: “Low-Mass X-ray Binary Models for ellipticals NGC3379 and NGC4278”.

Tassos Fragos gave a seminar talk at the National Observatory of Athens, Greece, on September 10th, with title: “Models for X-ray Binaries: Galactic and Extragalactic Populations”.

Tassos Fragos gave a seminar talk at the Academy of Athens, Greece, on September 11th, with title: “Models for X-ray Binaries: Galactic and Extragalactic Populations”.

Tassos Fragos gave a talk at the 8th Hellenic Astronomical Conference in Thassos, Greece, on September 13th, with title: “Understanding Black Hole Formation and Natal Kicks: II The Case of XTE J1118+480”.

Vicky Kalogera gives a talk on “Black Holes and Neutron Stars: Paradigms Being Challenged” at the 2007 Packard Fellows Symposium in Monterey, California.

August 2007

Vicky Kalogera and Bart Willems gave talks at the “40 Years of Pulsars-Millisecond Pulsars, Magnetars and More” conference in Montreal on August 17: Vicky Kalogera presented “Neutron Stars: Formed, Spun and Kicked” and Bart Willems presented “Polar kicks and the Pspin-e relation in double neutron stars“.

July 2007

Tassos Fragos presented a poster at the “X-ray Surveys: Evolution of Accretion, Star Formation and the Large Scale Structure” conference in Rodos, Greece, on July 2nd, with title: “Low-Mass X-ray Binary Models for ellipticals NGC3379 and NGC4278

June 2007

A new paper is submitted to Physical Review Letters:

Probing white dwarf interiors with LISA: periastron precession in eccentric double white dwarfs
B. Willems, A. Vecchio, & V. Kalogera.

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Short Gamma-Ray Bursts and Binary Mergers in Spiral and Elliptical Galaxies: Redshift Distribution and Hosts
R. O’Shaughnessy, K. Belczynski, & V. Kalogera.

Jeff Kaplan and Sasha Muratov have completed their Senior Honors Theses:

Low-frequency Non-radial Oscillations of Stars“, Jeff Kaplan
Computational Solutions to the Quasi-static Tidal Interactions in White Dward Binaries“, Sasha Muratov

Jeff’s thesis was selected as an Outstanding Senior Thesis in the Physics Department.

May 2007

Jeff Kaplan gives a talk at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii on May 28, “Improved Asymptotic Approximations for Low-Frequency g-modes of Stars”.

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters:

Eccentric double white dwarfs as LISA sources in globular clusters
B. Willems, V. Kalogera, A. Vecchio, N. Ivanova, F. A. Rasio, J. M. Fregeau, & K. Belczynski

Bart Willems gives a talk at the Neutron Star Populations Workshop at Green Bank Observatory on May 21, “The past, present, and future of recycled pulsar binaries”.

April 2007

Vicky Kalogera has been elected as one of the two members at-large of the Executive Committee of the APS Division of Astrophysics. At the end of the summer, Jeff Kaplan will be moving to Caltech for graduate studies in Physics and Alex Muratov will be moving to the Univ. of Michigan for graduate studies in Astronomy. Congratulations to both! Richard O’Shaughnessy gives a talk at the Argonne National Laboratory GLAST Workshop on April 13, “Unravelling short GRBs with LIGO, Swift and GLAST.” Tim Linden was awarded a Northwestern University Summer Undergraduate Research Grant. Congratulations Tim!

March 2007

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives a talk at the Workshop for Short GRB Physics in Munich on March 27, “Comparing the known (astrophysical constraints on BH-NS and NS-NS mergers) and the unknown (short GRBs).” James Kath was awarded a Goldwater Fellowship (one of three awarded to Northwestern students this year – two of them to Physics majors!) as a sophomore. Congratulations James!

February 2007

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives a talk at the University of Chicago’s Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics on February 23, “Astrophysical constraints on BH-NS and NS-NS mergers and the short GRB redshift distribution.”

Bart Willems gives four talks:

We are happy to welcome Ilya Mandel, who will be joining our group as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Fall of 2007 after he graduates from Caltech.

January 2007

Tassos Fragos gives a talk at the MODEST 7b meeting in Philadelphia on January 16, “Low-Mass X-Ray Binary Models for Ellipticals NGC3379 and NGC4278.” Richard O’Shaughnessy gives a talk at Georgia Tech University on January 10, “Gravitational Wave Astrophysics: a new window on the universe.”

Our group gave multiple presentations at the January AAS meeting in Seattle:

2006 Group News

December 2006

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters:

On the rarity of double black hole binaries: consequences for gravitational-wave detection” 
Krzysztof Belczynski, Vassiliki Kalogera, Frederic A. Rasio, Ronald E. Taam & Tomasz Bulik

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives a talk at the Texas Symposium in Australia on Dec 14, “Astrophysical Constraints on BH-NS and NS-NS Mergers and the Short GRB Redshift Distribution.”

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Equipotential Surfaces and Lagrangian points in Non-synchronous, Eccentric Binary and Planetary Systems
Jeremy Sepinsky, Bart Willems & Vicky Kalogera.

November 2006

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives a talk at Argonne National Laboratory on Nov 15, “Detecting binary mergers with gravitational waves.”

Vicky Kalogera gives the Astronomy Colloquium at Michigan State University on Nov 9, “Accreting Compact Objects in Nearby Galaxies.”

October 2006

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Constraining Population Synthesis Models via Observations of Compact-Object Binaries and Supernovae
R. O’Shaughnessy, C. Kim, V. Kalogera, & K. Belczynski.

September 2006

A new postdoctoral associate has joined our group: Marc van der Sluys, who’s coming from the University of Utrecht and Frank Verbunt’s group. Welcome Marc!

Two sabbatical visitors have joined our group:

  • Alberto Vecchio from U. Birmingham (September 2006 to July 2007)
  • Mike Eracleous from Penn State University (September – November 2006)
  • Alex Stroeer, a graduate student from U. Birmingham working with A. Vecchio has also joined the group for the coming year.

Welcome to all of them!

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Mapping population synthesis event rates on model parameters II: Convergence and accuracy of multidimensional fits”R. O’Shaughnessy, V. Kalogera, & K. Belczynski [astro-ph/0609465].

August 2006

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal: “Theoretical orbital period distributions of cataclysmic variables above the period gap: effects of circumbinary disks” by B. Willems, R. Taam, U. Kolb, G. Dubus, & E. Sandquist.

June 2006

Jeff Kaplan is the recipient of the Katherine L. Kriegbaum Scholarship, which comes with a generous grant to support his research in his senior year amd has been accepted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Congratulations!

Tassos Fragos gives the talk “Understanding black hole formation and natal kicks: II The case of XTE J1118+480” at the International Astronomy Meeting “The Multicoloured Landscape of Compact Objects and their Explosive Origins”, June 11-24, 2006, Cefalu, Sicily.

May 2006

Vicky received news from the Dean of the College that she will be promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in Fall 2006!

Vicky Kalogera is quoted in the New York Times regarding our work on expected gravitational-wave detections by LIGO.

April 2006

Chunglee Kim successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on “Galactic Merger Rates of Pulsar Binaries” on April 26. She will be moving to Cornell to do her postdoctoral work with Jim Cordes. Congratulations Dr. Kim!

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Interacting Binaries with Eccentric Orbits. I Secular Orbital Evolution due to Conservative Mass Transfer” 
J.P. Sepinsky, B. Willems, & V. Kalogera [astro-ph/]

March 2006

Chunglee Kim has been awarded the 2006 Luise Meyer-Schutzmeister Memorial Award by The Association of Women in Science (AWIS) Education Foundation. She is a graduate student in her final year and her dissertation work focuses on Merger Rates of Binary Pulsars. She is expected to graduate in May 2006 and will start her postdoctoral studies at Cornell in summer 2006. Congratulations!

The Luise Meyer-Schutzmeister Award is given annually to an outstanding woman graduate student in physics. It is awarded for exceptional academic achievement, the importance of the research being addressed, the quality of the research, and the applicant’s potential for future contributions to the field of physics. Further information on AWIS and their award program can be found at

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

The Eclipsing ULX in NGC 3379
G. Fabbiano, D.-W. Kim, T. Fragos, V. Kalogera, A. R. King, L. Angelini, R. L. Davies, J. S. Gallagher, S. Pellegrini, G. Trinchieri, S. E. Zepf, & A. Zezas [astro-ph/0603532]

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Stellar Remnants in Galactic Nuclei: Mass Segregation
Freitag M., Amaro-Seoane P., & Kalogera V. [astro-ph/0603280]

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives the LIGO Seminar on “Critically assessing Binary Mergers as short hard GRBs”, March 7, 2006, Caltech, Pasadena.

February 2006

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives the seminar “Gravitational wave astronomy: Methods and Applications” at the Illinois Institute of Technology, February 16, 2006, Chicago.

Chunglee Kim has accepted an offer to start her first postdoctoral position at Cornell with Jim Cordes this coming summer. She has chosen this position among three other offers. Congratulations!

We are happy that Marc van der Sluys (from Utrecht University) has accepted our offer for a postdoctoral position in our group and he will be joining us in September 2006!

A new paper is submitted to Physical Review D:

On the Formation and Progenitor of PSR J0737-3039: New Constraints on the Supernova Explosion Forming Pulsar B
Willems B., Kaplan J., Kalogera V., Fragos T., Belczynski K. [astro-ph/0602024]

January 2006

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

A Study of Compact Object Mergers as Short Gamma-Ray Burst Progenitors
Belczynski, K., Perna, R., Bulik, T., Kalogera, V., Ivanova, N., & Lamb, D.Q. [astro-ph/0601458]

2005 Group News

December 2005

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives the invited talk “Binary models for short GRBs” at the KICP inaugural symposium, December 8-13, 2005, Chicago.

Vicky Kalogera gives the seminar “Binary Neutron Star Mergers” at the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, December 2, 2005.

November 2005

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Supplements:

Compact Object Modeling with the StarTrack Population Synthesis Code
K. Belczynski, V. Kalogera, F.A. Rasio, R.E. Taam, A. Zezas, T. Bulik, T.J. Maccarone, & N. Ivanova [astro-ph/0511811]

Chunglee Kim gives two talks on:

September 2005

Baby Kalogera, a.k.a. Stefan George Rasio, was born at 6:25 PM on Friday, September 23rd at the Evanston Northwestern Hospital!
He is 3.2 kg (about 7lb 2oz) and 52 cm (20.5″). Baby and Vicky are doing great!

Tassos Fragos passes his PhD qualifying exams. Congratulations!

Bart Willems gives a review talk on: “Dynamic Tides in Close Binaries” at the “Active OB-Stars: Laboratories for Stellar & Circumstellar Physics” conference, August 29 – September 2, Sapporo, Japan.

August 2005

Vicky Kalogera, Natasha Ivanova, Richard O’Shaughnessy, & Marc Freitag give talks at the: MODEST-6 conference, August 29-31, Northwestern University, on (respectively):

Two new papers are submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Eccentricities of Double Neutron Star Binaries
C. M. Ihm, V. Kalogera, K. Belczynski [astro-ph/0508626]

Close Binary Interactions of Intermediate-Mass Black Holes: Possible Ultra-Luminous X-ray Sources?
L. Blecha, N. Ivanova, V. Kalogera, K. Belczynski, J. Fregeau, and F. Rasio [astro-ph/0508597]

Chunglee Kim gives a talk on: Effect of PSR J0737-3039 on the DNS Merger Rate and Implications for GW Detection at A Life with Stars, a meeting in honor of Ed van den Heuvel, August 22-26, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Natasha Ivanova gives a talk on: “The Point X-Ray Sources in Elliptical Galaxies” at the IAU Symposium No. 230, August 15-19, Dublin, Ireland.

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives two talks: “Delayed Mergers“, and “Updated Merger Rates” at the LSC meeting, August 14-17, LIGO Hanford Observatory.

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters:

Mass Transfer and the Period Decrease in RXJ0806.3+1527
B. Willems, & V.Kalogera [astro-ph/0508218]

Natasha Ivanova has been awarded a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, one of the most prestigious fellowships for European citizens in Science – Congratulations!

July 2005

Tassos Fragos has been awarded a Gerondelis Foundation Graduate Scholarship – Congratulations !

A new paper is submitted to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: “Eclipsing Binaries in Extrasolar Planet Surveys: the Case of SuperWASP” B. Willems, U. Kolb, S. Justham.

June 2005

Vicky Kalogera presents the talk “X-ray Binaries in Nearby Galaxies” at the Close Binaries in the 21st Century, June 27 – 30, Syros, Greece.

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

The Brightest Point X-Ray Sources in Elliptical Galaxies and the Mass Spectrum of Accreting Black Holes
N. Ivanova, & V.Kalogera.

May 2005

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letter:

“Low mass X-ray binaries and Metallicity Dependence: the Story of Failers”
N. Ivanova

Vicky Kalogera gives a Special Physics Colloquium: “Astrophysics of Gravitational Wave Sources.

Jeff Kaplan has been awarded a University Summer Research Grant to work on the kinematics of binary pulsars during Summer 2005. Congratulations!

Mia Ihm receives the Award for Outstanding Poster Presentation at the 3rd Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at Northwestern.

Also Mia and fellow NU student Rachel Scheidegger have won the 3rd-place prize as well as the coveted “Sexiest Robot” Award at Northwestern’s 2005 Design Competition. DC is a robotics competition that requires the assembly of complex electronics and robotics to navigate a special course. Participants are typically engineering students, though all Northwestern undergrads are welcome to try.

April 2005

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

“Cataclysmic Variables below the Period Gap: Evolution Driven by Circumbinary Disks”
B. Willems, U. Kolb, E.L. Sandquist, R.E. Taam, & G. Dubus

Mia Ihm (NU senior) has been awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) for the coming academic year!

The GRF Program invests in graduate education for a cadre of diverse individuals who demonstrate their potential to successfully complete graduate degree programs in disciplines relevant to the mission of the National Science Foundation. This is a 3-year fellowship that will support Mia’s graduate studies at one of the many programs she has already been accepted.

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Constraining Population Synthesis Models via the Binary Neutron Star Population
R. O’Shaughnessy, C. Kim, T. Fragos, V. Kalogera & K. Belczynski[astro-ph/0504479]

Jeff Kaplan (NU sophomore) has been selected as a Goldwater Scholar for 2005!

The Goldwater Scholars (320 sophomores and juniors) were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,091 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred sixty-five of the Scholars are men, 155 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Twenty-seven Scholars are mathematics majors, 239 are science majors, 45 are majoring in engineering, and 9 are computer science related majors. Many of the Scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines. Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs.

March 2005

Laura Blecha has been awarded a Gates-Cambridge Scholarship for the coming academic year!

This Scholarship will allow her to pursue her research on intermediate-mass black holes under the supervision of Sir Martin Rees at the University of Cambridge. Laura intends to continue graduate studies in Astrophysics in the U.S. after she completes her one-year stay in England. She is the first NU student to receive this award in the past six years.
The Gates-Cambridge Scholarship is an international scholarship program to enable outstanding graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to study at the University of Cambridge. The Trustees are required to award scholarships on the basis of a person’s intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world by providing service to their communities and applying their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others. Successful applicants will have the ability to make a significant contribution to their discipline while in Cambridge, with a strong aptitude for research, analysis and a creative approach to defining and solving problems. Approximately 100 new scholars are selected annually.

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives a talk at the March LSC on “Expected Compact-Object Merger Rates.”

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Bounds on Expected Black Hole Spins in Inspiraling Binaries
R. O’Shaughnessy, J. Kaplan, V. Kalogera & K. Belczynski [astro-ph/0503219]

February 2005

Vicky Kalogera receives an NSF CAREER Award in Astronomy!

Bart Willems and Vicky Kalogera submit a PRL “Comment on ‘Origin of the Binary Pulsar J0737-3039B’“.

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives the Relativity Seminar at University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee: “Astrophysics and Inspiral Detection.”

January 2005

Marc Freitag joins our group as a postdoctoral associate!

2004 Group News

December 2004

Vicky Kalogera presents the review talk “Binary Compact Object Inspiral: Rate Expectations” at The 14th Workshop on General Relativity and Gravitation, Nov 29 – Dec 3, Kyoto, Japan.

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives two talks on: Constraints on Compact-Object Merger Rates via (EM) NS-NS Observations and on Phase Steps: ‘Nonparametric’ Extensions to Inspiral Template Families at the 9th Gravitational Wave Data Analysis Workshop, in Annecy (France), Dec 15-18, 2004.

November 2004

Two new papers are submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Understanding Compact Object Formation and Natal Kicks I. Calculation Methods and the case of GRO J1655-40
B. Willems, M. Henninger, T. Levin, N. Ivanova, V. Kalogera, F.X. Timmes, C.L. Fryer

Are Supernova Kicks Responsible for X-ray Binary Ejection from Young Clusters?
J. Sepinsky, V. Kalogera, and K. Belczynski

October 2004

Undergraduate student Jeff Kaplan, and postdoctoral associate Richard O’Shaughnessy attend the 14th Midwest Relativity Meeting at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, October 15-16, 2004. They give talks on (respectively):

September 2004

Jeremy Sepinsky gives a talk on “X-Ray Binaries and Super-Star Clusters” at Graduate Student Research Program Fellowship Symposium at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, September 23, 2004

Jeremy Sepinsky successfully completed the Ph.D. qualifying exams – Congratulations!

August 2004

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Mapping inspiral rates on population synthesis parameters
R. O’Shaughnessy, V. Kalogera & K. Belczynski [astro-ph/0408387]

Vicky Kalogera gives a Special Astrophysics Seminar “Formation of Double Neutron Stars: Kicks and Tilts” at Physics Dept, McGill University, August 24, 2004.

Vicky Kalogera gives a talk on “X-Ray Binaries and Super-Star Clusters” at the workshop Massive Stars in Interacting Binaries, Quebec, Canada, August 16-20, 2004.

July 2004

Vicky Kalogera gives talks at two conferences:

Jeremy Sepinsky gives talk on: X-Ray Binaries and Super-Star Clusters at the Galaxies Viewed with Chandra Conference, July 7-9, 2004, CfA, Cambridge, MA.

Richard O’Shaughnessy gives talk on: Constraints on Binary Black Hole Inspiral Rates via Population Synthesis and Binary Neutron Stars at the GR 17 Conference, July 22, 2004, Dublin, Ireland.

June 2004

Chunglee Kim gives two talks on:

May 2004

Bart Willems gives a talk on “Dynamic Tides and the Evolution of Stars in Close Binaries” at the Third Granada Workshop on Stellar Structure, Tidal Evolution and Oscillations in Binary Stars, May 26-28, 2004, Granada, Spain.

Jeremy Sepinsky has been awarded a NASA/Goddard Graduate Student Researchers Program Fellowship for 2004 (renewable for up to 3 years). The NASA GSRP awards fellowships for graduate study leading to masters or doctoral degrees in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering related to NASA research and development. Jeremy’s NASA Technical Adviser will be Dr. Nicholas White – Congratulations!

Laura Blecha has been selected as this year’s recipient of the annual Outstanding Junior in Physics and Astronomy award. This award is designed to recognize a Physics and Astronomy major in their junior year who has demonstrated exceptional academic achievement in the major and shows great promise for the future.
Laura has also been elected as the President of the Society of Physics Students at Northwestern University – Congratulations!

Bart Willems gives the Physics & Astronomy Colloquium at the Open University in Milton Keynes (UK) on “Pulsar Kicks and Spin Tilts in Close Double Neutron Stars.”

Todd Levin is awarded a NU Undergraduate Research Grant for Summer 2004 – Congratulations!

Vicky Kalogera is awarded the Cottrell Scholar Award by the Research Corporation. The Cottrell Scholar Awards are designed for institutions and faculty members who wish to excel at both teaching and research.

Bart Willems and collaborators submitted two new papers to Astronomy & Astrophysics:

“Interpretation of the variability of the β Cephei star λ Scorpii I. The multiple character”,
K. Uytterhoeven, B. Willems, K. Lefever, C. Aerts, J.H. Telting, U. Kolb

“Interpretation of the variability of the β Cephei star λ Scorpii II. The line-profile diagnostics”,
K. Uytterhoeven, J.H. Telting, C. Aerts, B. Willems

April 2004

Philippe Grandclement (postdoctoral associate 2001-2003) accepts an offer for a permanent CNRS position (Paris, France) – Congratulations!

A new paper is submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Pulsar Kicks and Spin Tilts in the Close Double Neutron Stars PSR J0737-3039, PSR B1534+12 and PSR B1913+16
B. Willems, V. Kalogera & M. Henninger

Bart Willems gives the Departmental Brown Bag Lunch on:  “PSR J0737-3039: An Extraordinary Double Neutron Star System.”

March 2004

Laura Blecha will be spending Summer 2004 as an REU student in Mike Zurek’s group at UCLA. Mia Ihm will be spending Summer 2004 as an REU student in George Smoot’s group at LBL. Chris Deloye from UCSB will be joining our group as a postdoctoral associate in the Fall 2004. Vicky Kalogera presents the recent results on the double pulsar J0737-3039 as a LIGO Seminar at Caltech. Philip Nutzman receives graduate program offers from Caltech, Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UC SantaCruz – Congratulations!

February 2004

Two new papers are submitted to The Astrophysical Journal:

Gravitational Waves from Extragalactic Inspiraling Binaries: Selection Effects and Expected Detection Rates
P.Nutzman, V.Kalogera, L.S.Finn, C. Hendrickson, K. Belczynski

The Probability Distribution of Binary Pulsar Coalescence Rate Estimates. II. Neutron Star-White Dwarf Binaries
C.Kim, V.Kalogera, D.R.Lorimer, T.White

Chunglee Kim gives the Departmental Brown Bag Lunch on Coalescence Rates of Pulsar Binaries and GW Detection.

Vicky Kalogera gives the Joint Tufts/CfA/MIT Seminar on “The Most Relativistic Double Pulsar: Implications for Gravitational-Wave Detection and Neutron-Star Formation.”

January 2004

Vicky Kalogera gives a plenary talk on Gravitational-Wave Binary Inspiral at the International Conference on Gravitation and Cosmology (ICGC-2004), January 5-10, 2004, Kochi, India.

Graduate student Chunglee Kim, postdoctoral associate Bart Willems, andVicky Kalogera attend the 2004 Winter Conference on Astrophysics on Binary Radio Pulsars, January 11-17, 2004, Aspen Center for Physics. They present their work on (respectively):

  • The New Relativistic Binary Pulsar and Implications for Gravitational-Wave Detection [see this talk]
  • The Formation of Relativistic Binary Pulsars: Constraints on Supernova Kicks [see talk 1] [see talk 2]
  • The Evolutionary History of Eccentric Binaries with Neutron Stars and White Dwarfs [see this talk]
2003 Group News

December 2003

A New Relativistic Binary Pulsar has been discovered with the Parkes 64m Radio Telescope! The Implications for Gravitational-Wave Detection of Double Neutron Star Inspiral are Important !
Check out the Press Releases, Movies, and Papers:

Graduate student Chunglee Kim presents the exciting results on the NS-NS inspiral rate implications at the:

Postdoctoral associate Richard O’Shaughnessy presents his recent work on Genetic Algorithms and Gravitational-Wave Astrophysics at the 8th Gravitational Wave Data Analysis Workshop (GWDAW-8), Dec 17-20, 2003, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Vicky Kalogera (in collaboration with postdoctoral associate Philippe Grandclement and undergraduate student Mia Ihm) presents recent results on the importance of precession in astrophysical compact object binaries at the 8th Gravitational Wave Data Analysis Workshop (GWDAW-8), Dec 17-20, 2003, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

November 2003

Vicky Kalogera gives a talk on X-Ray Binary in Nearby Galaxies at the IAU Colloquium 194, November 17-22, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

October 2003

Our group moved to newly renovated space in Dearborn! Postdoctoral research associate Bart Willems joins our group! Come and meet him in Dearborn 21

A new paper has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters:

X-Ray Binary Populations: The Luminosity Function of NGC1569″
K.Belczynski, V.Kalogera, A.Zezas & G.Fabbiano

September 2003

Postdoctoral research associate Richard O’Shaughnessy joins our group! Come and meet him in F323. Postdoctoral Research Associate Philippe Grandclément is leaving our group taking a new position in France – remember to say goodbye! Grad student Chunglee Kim is presenting her work in a talk at “Advanced School and Conference on Sources of Gravitational Waves”, 15-26 Sep 2003, Trieste, Italy

August 2003

Two new papers have been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters:

Could Black-Hole X-Ray Binaries Be Detected in Globular Clusters?
Kalogera V., King A. & Rasio F.

An Observational Diagnostic for Ultraluminous X-Ray Sources
Kalogera V., Henninger M., Ivanova N. & King A.

July 2003

Graduate student Jeremy Sepinsky joins our group! Come and meet him in F324.

June 2003

Graduate student Chunglee Kim passes her qualifying exam – way to go! Graduate student James Jenkins joins the group! Come and meet him in F324. Summer research students Laura Blecha, Dave Guarrera, Mike Henninger, Mia Ihm, Philip Nutzman, and Nicole Yan move to Dearborn Observatory in their own space. Students Dave Guarrera and Mike Henninger graduate – Congratulations! Dave is off to Cambridge, England next year and then MIT for his graduate studies and Mike will spend next year working in the group and will be applying to graduate schools.

May 2003

Students Mike Henninger and Philip Nutzman present their work at the Northwestern Undergraduate Research Symposium.