The Ohio State University Honors Distinguished Faculty

The Board of Trustees voted to award the title of Distinguished University Professor to Clark Larsen, Distinguished Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and David Weinberg, Henry L. Cox Professor of Astronomy.

The Distinguished University Professor designation is awarded after a lengthy nomination and review process. Selection includes automatic membership in the President’s and Provost’s Advisory Committee and a one-time award of $30,000 to be used for scholarly work. Only 56 other faculty members share the title.

Larsen is a biological anthropologist who studies human health and quality of life over the last 10,000 years of human evolution. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Weinberg studies the structure of the universe, dark energy and dark matter. He has received Ohio State’s Distinguished Scholar Award. He is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association or the Advancement of Science.

When Stars Go Gently Into That Sweet Night

For the first time in history, astronomers have been able to watch as a dying star was reborn as a black hole. The star, which was 25 times as massive as our sun, should have exploded in a very bright supernova. Instead it un-spectacularly became a black hole.

Quietly dying stars like this one in a nearby galaxy could explain why astronomers rarely see supernovae from the most massive stars, said Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Observational Cosmology.

As many as 30 percent of such stars, it seems, may quietly collapse into black holes with going super nova.

He leads a team of astronomers who have been using the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) to look for failed supernovae in other galaxies. They published their latest results in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The astronomers aimed the Hubble Space Telescope at the star’s location to see if it was still there but merely dimmed. They also used the Spitzer Space Telescope to search for any infrared radiation emanating from the spot. That would have been a sign that the star was still present, but perhaps just hidden behind a dust cloud.

All the tests came up negative. The star was no longer there. By a careful process of elimination, the researchers eventually concluded that the star must have become a black hole.

Moore Foundation grants $2.4 Million to OSU’s ASAS-SN project

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is making a five-year, $2.4 Million grant to the OSU All-Sky Automated Search for Supernovae project, which is lead by OSU Astronomy Professors Krzysztof Stanek (principal project investigator) and Co-Pi’s Christopher Kochanek and Todd Thompson.

In May 2014, ASAS-SN began its first observations with two sets of four telescopes located in Hawaii and Chile, hosted by the Las Cumbres Observatory based in Santa Barbara, California.

The technology used at the two cites can cover about half the visible sky and can see things 25,000 times fainter than what the human eye can see. Night by night thousands of images are capture and compared to previously recorded images.

Ohio State graduate students have played important roles in project development. And in just two years ASAS-SN has become the international leader in discovery of bright supernovae.

Additional support for ASAS-SN comes from the National Science Foundation, CCAPP, Chinese Academy of Sciences South America Center for Astronomy, the Mt. Cuba Astronomical Foundation, George Skestos, the Robert Martin Ayers Sciences Fund, and Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Initial seed funding for ASAS-SN was provided by Ohio State’s Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics (CCAPP).