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Steve ScarpaDecember 6, 20225min
NASA’s largest telescope in space, JWST, is proving to be powerful enough to measure atmospheric chemicals on WASP-39b, a planet orbiting a star 700 light years away, and find sulfur dioxide, an element found in Earth’s ozone layer. “This is a mind-blowing demonstration of the capabilities of this telescope,” said Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield, whose research group has been receiving early information from the telescope since its launch as a member of a JWST Early Release Science team. “There is a world that is hundreds of light years away and we can tell you how much sulfur dioxide is…

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Steve ScarpaJuly 18, 20225min
Seth Redfield’s delight couldn’t be more apparent on the day the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope came through. On July 11 NASA released images of the Carina Nebula; Stephan’s Quintet (a galaxy cluster), atmospheric readings of WASP-96b, a planet orbiting a distant star; and the Southern Ring Nebula. While the images were certainly dreamlike and breathtaking, showing the oldest documented light in the universe from 13 billion years ago, it was the events of day two that got Redfield really excited. It was then that he, and scientists across the country, would start receiving raw data from…

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Olivia DrakeApril 11, 20228min
Every summer, Anna Fehr '23 would cherish family camping trips to the mountains in California. There, she could see something many people—especially city residents—rarely get to experience: a truly dark night sky. "I remember seeing the Milky Way and just being blown away by the sheer number of stars," she recalls. "I think I knew at the time that each star was like another sun, and it was just impossible to imagine the scope of what I could see with a naked eye. Also, my parents both have August birthdays, so we would go up to the mountains during the…

Rachel Wachman '24February 3, 20226min
  NASA's new infrared telescope, which launched on Dec. 25, 2021, will help researchers like Wesleyan's Seth Redfield explore the universe in ways like never before. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is accessible to the worldwide scientific community, offers scientists the ability to explore the solar system, galactic evolution, the early universe, and the formation of stars and planets like never before. The telescope will also observe planets orbiting other stars, known as exoplanets. Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield, a member of the JWST's Transiting Exoplanet Community Early Release Science Program (ERS), will work with scholars from around…

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Steve ScarpaJanuary 11, 20226min
Using high-resolution data obtained from the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, Wesleyan University Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield can show the conditions the Sun encountered traveling through space over the past 5 million years. Redfield will present his findings Jan. 12, 2022 as part of a press conference associated with the American Astronomical Society’s previously planned annual conference. This work was a close collaboration of Redfield with Hunter Vannier ’20, and a major component of Vannier's senior thesis. Vannier is now a PhD student at Purdue University working on lunar mineralogy. By focusing on eight paths, each of…

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Editorial StaffDecember 16, 20216min
By Maia Dawson '23 In the Lunar lab on the third floor of the Exley Science Center, Thomas Davoren MA ’22, thumbed through scientist David Walker’s handwritten notes from 1970, and inspected samples retrieved from the moon in 1969. Found in Davoren’s work are clues to the origins of Earth’s glowing satellite. Davoren was among the students awarded a Fall 2021 NASA Connecticut Space Consortium Fellowship. In a paper written for a conference in 2020 in Houston, Davoren detailed his discovery of Chromite-Ulvöspinel-Pyroxene (CUSP) inclusions. These unique, microscopic crystalline structures appeared first to Davoren in basaltic rocks retrieved from the…

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Olivia DrakeJune 18, 20218min
In recognition of their career achievements, the following faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1, 2021: Erik Grimmer-Solem, professor of history, is receiving the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Professorship in the College of Social Studies, established in 2008. Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics, is receiving the Woodhouse/Sysco Professorship of Economics, established in 2002. Edward Moran, professor of astronomy, is receiving the John Monroe Van Vleck Professorship of Astronomy, established in 1982. Suzanne OConnell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, is receiving the Harold T. Stearns Professorship of Earth Sciences, established in 1984. Francis Starr, professor…

Rachel Wachman '24April 16, 20211min
Ilaria Carleo, a postdoc working with Associate Professor of Astronomy Seth Redfield, co-authored a paper called “Five carbon- and nitrogen-bearing species in a hot giant planet’s atmosphere,” which details the discovery of six different molecules in the atmosphere of a hot, gas giant exoplanet called HD209458b. The paper, published in Nature on April 7, discusses known information about the exoplanet, as well as the process by which these molecules were discovered using observations from the Galileo National Telescope. “Now that the analysis technique has been optimized, we are investigating the presence of these molecules in the atmosphere of other hot-Jupiters…

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Olivia DrakeFebruary 12, 20216min
Four members of the Class of 2021 are recipients of NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium awards. Kimberly Paragas '21, Ben Martinez '21, Molly Watstein '21, and Mason Tea '21 each received a $5,000 Undergraduate Research Fellowship for their ongoing research. They're among only seven students statewide to receive the honor. "I have never seen an institution be so successful at these very competitive grants, and was so proud and impressed by the student applicants," said Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy. Paragras is working with Redfield on her project titled "Gas Giant Atmospheric Mass Loss." According to the abstract, "Atmospheric mass…

Olivia DrakeFebruary 12, 20214min
Four Wesleyan faculty, nine undergraduate students, one graduate student, and one postdoctoral researcher attended the 237th American Astronomical Society meeting virtually Jan. 10–15. Wesleyan faculty attendees included Ed Moran, chair and professor of astronomy; Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy; Meredith Hughes, associate professor of astronomy; and Roy Kilgard, associate professor of the practice in astronomy. Poster presentations included: Kimberly Paragas '21, who is working with Redfield, presented "Metastable Helium Reveals Ongoing Mass Loss for the Gas Giant HAT-P-18b." Molly Watstein '21, who is working with Moran, presented "New Insights into AGN Unification from NuSTAR Observations of Nearby Seyfert 2 Galaxies."…

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Olivia DrakeJuly 22, 20202min
On July 20, the Astronomy Department's Van Vleck Observatory acquired a state-of-the-art 24-inch telescope that can view galactic objects remotely and autonomously. "When fully operational, the system will be able to determine if the weather is favorable for observing, open the dome, take calibration observations from a queue, and close down in the morning, all on its own," explained Roy Kilgard, associate professor of the practice in astronomy. "We'll be able to conduct remote observations in real time, with a human operator at home or in their office, and make those images available to our students or researchers immediately." The…

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Olivia DrakeMarch 17, 20202min
If a spacecraft were to quickly travel outside the solar system—potentially en route to a nearby exoplanetary system—it would need to pass through an atmosphere unfamiliar to scientists on Earth. As a recipient of a $415,000 grant from NASA, Seth Redfield, chair and associate professor of astronomy, hopes to learn more about the mysterious makeup of this "outer space." "There are several very early designs for an interstellar probe, but first, we need to understand the properties of the space in between the stars if you are traveling through it, especially at high speed," Redfield said. "Given the vastness of…