The Newton Lacy Pierce Prize is one of the two
major awards given annually by the American Astronomical Society to an
astronomer under the age of 36.
The SIRTF Fellowship, along with the Hubble and
Chandra Fellowships, are widely considered to be among the most prestigious
of NASA-supported fellowships for astronomers at an early stage in their
Barger Wins Pierce Prize
The recipient of the 2002 Pierce Prize of the American
Astronomical Society (AAS) is Dr. Amy J. Barger, visiting adjunct astronomer
in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawaii.
The Pierce Prize is given annually to an astronomer under the age of 35
for outstanding achievement in observational astronomical research over
the past five years. This prestigious prize is the second national award
Dr. Barger has received in the past two years. She was the recipient of
the 2001 Annie Jump Cannon Award, administered jointly by the American
Association of University Women (AAUW) in cooperation with the AAS. The
Cannon Prize is given annually to the woman whose astronomical research
has been judged to be of outstanding merit. Much of the research for which
Dr. Barger has been cited was done while she was a resident postdoctoral
fellow at the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) from 1997 to 2000.
Fernandez Is SIRTF Fellow
Dr. Yanga R. "Yan" Fernandez, currently an IfA
postdoctoral fellow, has received a SIRTF Fellow-ship. He is one of only
three to receive this prestigious award in its inaugural year. SIRTF,
the Space InfraRed Telescope Facility, is the final element in NASA's
Great Observatories Program, which also includes the Hubble Space Telescope
launched in 1990, the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (1991), and the Chandra
X-Ray Observatory (1999).
Working with Dr. David Jewitt and Dr. Karen Meech,
Dr. Fernandez has focused on measuring the sizes and albedos (reflective
power) of small solar system bodies such as comets and asteroids. Using
thermal imaging cameras on the Keck telescope, he discovered a relation
between albedo and the dynamical character of Near Earth Objects (NEOs).
Specifically, he found that NEOs with cometlike orbits also possess cometlike
albedos (they are very black). This is the first compelling evidence that
the NEOs include a significant population of dead comets. Previously,
astronomers had no way to distinguish a dead comet nucleus from a normal,