HEAD High Energy Astrophysics Division

HEAD Press Releases

  • February 1, 2012
    Megan Watzke
    HEAD Press Officer
    +1 617-496-7998


    The 2012 Rossi Prize has been awarded to astrophysicist Marco Tavani and the AGILE team for the discovery of gamma-ray flares from the Crab Nebula. Long thought to be a steady source of energy-- from optical to gamma rays--this finding has changed the understanding of this very important cosmic object.

    "The production of these incredible gamma-ray flares from the Crab Nebula is a feat that will lead us to a deeper understanding of the fundamental processes of particle acceleration in cosmic sources," said Dr. Tavani. "AGILE unveiled this phenomenon in part because of its rapid data acquisition and processing -- a large success for a 'small mission'."

    AGILE ("Astrorivelatore Gamma a Immagini Leggero") is an Italian Space Agency (ASI) mission dedicated to the observation of the gamma-ray Universe. The mission is conducted with the participation of the Italian Institutes of Astrophysics (INAF) and Nuclear Physics (INFN). Dr. Tavani, of the INAF-Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica in Rome and University of Rome "Tor Vergata", is the Principal Investigator of the AGILE mission.

    The AAS High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) awards the Rossi Prize in recognition of significant contributions as well as recent and original work in high-energy astrophysics. The prize is in honor of Professor Bruno Rossi, an authority on cosmic ray physics and a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy. The prize also includes an engraved certificate and a $1,500 award. Dr. Tavani will give a joint lecture at the 221st AAS meeting in Long Beach, CA in January 2013.

    For more information about AGILE, visit http://agile.iasf-roma.inaf.it/ and http://agile.asdc.asi.it/

    Information on previous winners of the Rossi Prize can be found at: http://www.aas.org/head/rossi/rossi.recip.html

  • September 8, 2011
    Megan Watzke
    HEAD Press Officer
    +1 617-496-7998


    Dennis Overbye from the New York Times has been awarded the 2011 David N. Schramm award from the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

    The purpose of the Schramm Award is to recognize and stimulate distinguished writing on high-energy astrophysics in order to improve the general public’s understanding and appreciation of this exciting field of research.

    Overbye’s winning piece, entitled “A Costly Quest for the Heart of the Dark Cosmos,” appeared on the front page of the newspaper on November 17, 2010. The story chronicles the journey of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and its leader Sam Ting through a long and winding budgetary and political process.

    “I am especially pleased about this award because I knew David Schramm for a long time and I greatly admired and liked him,” said Overbye. “I learned a lot from him, both about the universe and the Big Bang, and most importantly about life.”

    The award consists of a prize of $1,500 and a plaque containing a citation. The publisher of the winning work will receive a certificate honoring the publication in which the work appeared. The award is sponsored by HEAD/AAS, which pays the winning author’s personal travel expenses so that the award can be received in person at the next HEAD meeting, which is being held this week (September 7-10, 2011) in Newport, Rhode Island.

    David Schramm was a distinguished scientist who is widely regarded as the founder of the field of particle astrophysics, a discipline where cosmology and particle physics meet. High-energy astrophysics incorporates experimental and theoretical studies of high-energy photons and particles from the cosmos, including the disciplines of X-ray, gamma-ray, and cosmic-ray astronomy.

    More about the 2011 HEAD meeting:

    More about the Schramm award:

  • September 7, 2011

    The High-Energy Astrophysical Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society has announced its selection for an outstanding new Ph.D. dissertation in the field of high-energy astrophysics.

    This year’s winner is Jeanette Gladstone for her thesis entitled “Optical & X-ray Studies of Ultraluminous X-ray Sources,” work that was done while she was at the Durham University in the United Kingdom. This work sheds new light on the previously unknown life cycle of mysterious black holes and may have implications for the role of black holes in the evolution of entire galaxies.

    “Receiving this award is quite an honor,” said Dr. Gladstone, now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Alberta in Canada. “I’m very much looking forward to continuing my research in this exciting area of astrophysics.”

    The winner of the prize receives a certificate, a cash award of $1000, and an invitation to give a 30-minute invited talk at the semi-annual HEAD meeting. The HEAD meeting is currently being held in Newport, RI, where hundreds of scientists are in attendance.

    More information on the HEAD dissertation prize can be found at:

    Details of the Newport HEAD are available at:

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