NU astrophysicist awarded top prize from American Physical Society

Drew Gerber, Assistant Campus Editor

Vicky Kalogera, the Erastus O. Haven professor of physics and astronomy, has been awarded a top-level prize from the American Physical Society for her work studying electromagnetic and gravitational wave radiation.

The 2016 Hans A. Bethe Prize recognizes outstanding work in the areas of nuclear physics, astrophysics and nuclear astrophysics, with scientists working in these fields worldwide eligible for the award.

Kalogera studies the physics of compact objects, like neutron stars and black holes, and focuses on binary star systems where two stars orbit each other. She works to develop methods to detect theoretical “ripples” in spacetime first predicted by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity in 1915. In being awarded the Bethe prize, the APS is recognizing Kalogera’s “now-verified” prediction that merging neutron stars produce short gamma-ray bursts in all galaxy types.

“It’s a humbling honor to receive this award,” Kalogera said in a news release last week. “Many of the past recipients are giants in the field, people whose work I have admired and read about since I first started learning about astrophysics and nuclear physics.”

At Northwestern, Kalogera leads the University’s collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, a large-scale physics experiment operated by the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to try and detect the sources of gravitational waves and broaden the field of gravitational-wave astronomy. Kalogera also heads the NU Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics, which emphasizes interdisciplinary research in the field of astrophysics.

The recipient of numerous awards for her research in astrophysics, Kalogera was named one of Astronomy Magazine’s Top 10 Rising Stars of Astronomy in 2008.

Kalogera will receive the prize at the APS meeting in Salt Lake City in April.

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