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Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences

Research in the SSP Division is directed toward understanding star and planet formation and the physical processes in the Sun, stars, and stellar systems. Division research on the Sun addresses its basic stellar properties, its atmosphere and corona, and its effects on the Earth. Studies of other stars seek to measure the age and chemical composition and to understand the structure of surrounding disks, magnetic fields, and winds. Searches for objects in our own solar system and for extra-solar planets inform theoretical investigations of star and planet formation and evolution. Observational data are obtained from ground-based observatories (such as the MMT Observatory, Magellan, and the Whipple Observatory) and from satellites including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer, the Far Ultraviolet Spectrographic Explorer, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.


AVRETT, Eugene H., Senior Physicist. B.S. (1957) Georgia Institute of Technology; Ph.D. (1962) Harvard University. Research specialties: Theory of stellar atmospheres and spectra; models of solar and stellar atmospheres; computer simulation of solar, stellar, and nebular spectra.

CRANMER, Steven R., Astrophysicist. B.S. (1990) Drexel University; M.S. (1991) Ohio State University; Ph.D. (1996) University of Delaware. Research specialties: Heating of the solar corona and acceleration of the solar wind; Plasma physics and kinetic theory of waves and turbulence; Rotating hot stars (O, B, Wolf-Rayet) and circumstellar fluid dynamics; Radiative transfer and spectroscopy.

DUPREE, Andrea K., Senior Astrophysicist. B.A. (1960) Wellesley College; Ph.D. (1968) Harvard University. Research specialties: Astronomical s>pectroscopy; theory of solar and stellar atmospheres and spectra; stellar chromospheres and coronae; mass loss and stellar winds.

GINGERICH, Owen, Senior Astronomer Emeritus; Professor of Astronomy and the History of Science Emeritus, Harvard University. B.A. (1951) Goshen College; M.A. (1953), Ph.D. (1962) Harvard University. Research specialties: History of astronomy, especially the sixteenth to twentieth centuries.

IRWIN, Jonathan M., Astronomer. B.A., M.Sci. (2004); M.A., Ph.D. (2007) University of Cambridge. Research specialties: Robotic telescope operations; very low-mass eclipsing binaries; rotational evolution of low-mass stars.

KALKOFEN, Wolfgang, Astrophysicist. Vordiplom (1956) Goethe University, Germany; M.A. (1961), Ph.D. (1963) Harvard University. Research specialties: Radiative transfer in continua and in spectral lines through static and moving media; radiative gas dynamics; propagation and dissipation of shock waves in stellar atmospheres.

KENYON, Scott J., Senior Astrophysicist. B.S. (1978) Arizona State University; M.S. (1979), Ph.D. (1983) University of Illinois. Research specialties: Numerical calculations of planet formation; structure of debris disks; the formation and evolution of single and multiple stars; accretion disks.

KORZENNIK, Sylvain G., Physicist. Degree of Engineering (1977) Free University of Brussels; Ph.D. (1990) University of California, Los Angeles. Research specialties: Astronomy; solar physics; helioseismology; astroseismology; extrasolar planets.

LATHAM, David W., S.B. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1961), Ph.D. Harvard University (1970); The search for and characterization of exoplanets, binary and multiple star characteristics of various stellar populations in the Galaxy, the chemical and kinematical history of the Galaxy, telescopes and instrumentation, NASA’s Kepler mission, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.

LOPEZ-MORALES, M. Mercedes, Staff Astrophysicist. B.S. (1996) Universidad de La Laguna, Spain; M.S. (2001), Ph.D. (2004) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Research specialties: Exoplanet detection and characterization; exoplanet atmospheres; extrasolar bio-signatures; low-mass stars.

MEIBOM, SØren, Astronomer.  M.S. (1999) University of Copenhagen; Ph.D. (2005) University of Wisconsin.  Research specialties:  Observational studies of the rotation of stars as a function of mass and age with a special focus on members of open clusters with known ages; searches for transiting planets in open clusters; surveys of open clusters to determine membership and binarity.

MIRALLES, Mari Paz, Astrophysicist. M.Sc. (1989), Ph.D. (1993) Complutense University of Madrid. Research specialties: Solar physics: solar corona, ultraviolet spectroscopy of solar-wind source regions; star formation: radio astronomy, molecular clouds, OB stars, ultracompact H II regions, infrared imaging and spectroscopy.

NOYES, Robert W., Astrophysicist; Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University. B.A. (1957) Haverford College; Ph.D. (1963) California Institute of Technology. Research specialties: Solar and stellar physics; solar structure and dynamics; detection and characterization of planets around other stars; origin and evolution of planetary systems.

PANASYUK, Alexander V., Computer Scientist. M.S. (1988) Moscow Physical Technical Institute; Ph.D. (1992) Acoustics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. Research specialties: Propagation of acoustical waves in nonlinear media; numerical analysis and simulation; software development for data acquisition and control systems.

PETAEV, Michail, Senior Geologist. M.A. (1979) Moscow State University; Ph.D. (1985) Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Moscow. Research specialties: Experimental and theoretical cosmochemistry; petrologic and chemical studies of the meteoritic record of events and processes in the primordial solar nebula; thermodynamic and kinetic modeling of nebular condensation and igneous and aqueous processes on asteroids.

RAYMOND, John C., Astrophysicist. B.A. (1970), Ph.D. (1976) University of Wisconsin, Madison. Research specialties: Supernova remnants; solar physics; cataclysmic variables.

SOON, Willie, Astrophysicist. B.Sc. (1985), M.Sc. (1987), Ph.D. (1991)[with distinction] University of Southern California. Research specialties: Observational analysis and physical modeling of phenomena relevant to the Sun, Sun-like stars, and the Earth.

SPAHR, Timothy, Astronomer. B.S. (1993) University of Arizona; Ph.D. (1998) University of Florida. Research specialties: Distribution of asteroids; sky surveys for near-Earth objects; determination of orbits.

SZENTGYORGYI, Andrew H., Associate Director, B.S. (1979) S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook, M.S. (1983), Ph.D. (1986) University of Wisconsin, Madison. Research specialties: exoplanets, stellar astronomy, precision radial velocity surveys; high dispersion spectroscopy; instrumentation.

VAN BALLEGOOIJEN, Adriaan, Astrophysicist. Ph.D. (1982) State University of Utrecht. Research specialties: Solar magnetic fields; magnetohydrodynamics; nonthermal heating of the solar atmosphere; solar prominences.


BUCHHAVE, Lars A., Research Associate, Harvard University. Ph.D. (2010) University of Copenhagen. Research specialties: Detection and characterization of exoplanets and spectroscopic characterization of exoplanet hosts stars.

CHARBONNEAU, David B., Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University. Hons B.Sc. (1996) University of Toronto; A.M (1999), Ph.D. (2001) Harvard University. Research specialties: Detection and characterization of planets orbiting nearby stars; design and implementation of automated telescopes for photometric monitoring.

FRANKLIN, Fred A., Astronomer and Physicist. B.A. (1954) Harvard College; M.A. (1956), Ph.D. (1962) Harvard University. Research specialties: Planetary photometry; stability problems; investigations of concentration and scattering properties of small particles in the solar system; techniques and instrumentation to measure the Earth’s albedo.

JOHNSON, John A., Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University. B.S. (2000) Physics Missouri University of Science and Technology, M.A. (2002) Astronomy UC Berkeley, Ph.D. (2007) Astronomy UC Berkeley. Research specialties: detection and characterization of planets orbiting nearby stars; stellar astrophysics; design and implementation of robotic telescopes for highly precise radial velocity monitoring of bright stars.

KURUCZ, Robert L., Research Associate. A.B. (1966) Harvard College; Ph.D. (1973) Harvard University. Research specialties: Radiative transfer; stellar atmospheres; solar physics; atomic and molecular spectroscopy.

ÖBERG, Karin I., Assistant Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University. B.Sc. (2005) California Institute of Technology, Ph.D. (2009) Leiden University. Research specialties: Astrochemistry; laboratory astrophysics; molecular processes during star and planet formation.

SASSELOV, Dimitar, Professor, Harvard University. M.Sc. (1986), Ph.D. (1988) University of Sofia; Ph.D. (1990) University of Toronto. Research specialties: Stellar pulsation; radiation hydrodynamics; stellar spectroscopy; extrasolar planets.

STRACHAN, Leonard., Research Associate.  S.B. (1982) Massachusetts Institute of Technology; A.M.(1987), Ph.D. (1990) Harvard University. Research specialties:  Solar physics; ultraviolet spectroscopy; development of space-based instruments.