Thousands of astronomers converged on Washington, DC this week to participate in the "Super Bowl of astronomy”—the biannual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Among them was Professor Robert Fisher of the Physics Department, who had been invited to deliver a speech on the science of exploding stars.
The 231st AAS Meeting brought together more than 3,000 researchers, students, and journalists for a week-long celebration of all things astronomical, from black holes and exploding stars to planets around other stars.
In all, more than 2,000 talks, posters, and presentations were presented.
“The Fate of Exploding White Dwarfs”
Among these myriad presentations, the AAS highlights research of special note in plenary sessions that are attended by all participants. This year, sixteen plenary talks were delivered by special invitation, including one by Professor Fisher: “The Fate of Exploding White Dwarfs.”
"It has been famously noted that we are literally stardust; the very atoms of our bodies were forged within the stars,” Fisher said.
“What's more, most of the calcium of our bones and the iron and nickel of the Earth's core were formed by the tremendous explosion of the cinders of sun-like stars. My group's research is focused on how these exploding stars work."
Fisher noted that these stars play a crucial role as standard rulers for measuring distances across the farthest reaches of the cosmos
Mentoring students in world-class research
However, Fisher’s research has also had an impact closer to home. Since arriving at UMass Dartmouth in the fall of 2008, he has mentored 34 undergraduate and graduate students from UMass Dartmouth as well as visiting students from around the world.
"My invited plenary talk at the American Astronomical Society was a great opportunity to showcase the world-class research being performed at UMass Dartmouth with my current and former graduate and undergraduate students," said Fisher.
Alumni of Fisher's research group have gone on to leading graduate programs in the U.S. and worldwide.
Former student Rahul Kashyap '17 (PhD, Engineering & Applied Science) is now a postdoctoral fellow working jointly at the Albert Einstein Institute in Germany and the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences in India.
Other former students include Peter Jumper '13 (BS, Physics) who was one of seven national finalists selected for the prestigious American Physical Society Apker Prize. Suoqing Ji '13 (MS, Physics) is a Paxton Fellow at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Ji recently received the prestigious Burke Prize Fellowship in theoretical physics from Caltech.
Fisher also mentored Pascal Cremer, a visiting German student intern who went on to a prominent CHESS fellowship at the University of Cambridge.