UH Astronomer Awarded Sloan Fellowship for Exoplanet Research

February 24, 2019, 8:10 AM HST (Updated February 24, 2019, 8:17 AM)
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Dr. Dan Huber, recipient of a 2019 Sloan Foundation Fellowship. Courtesy photo.

An astronomer at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) has been awarded the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for his influential work in exoplanet system research.

Daniel Huber is among 126 recipients in the U.S. and Canada to receive the two-year fellowship from the Arthur P. Sloan Foundation. Awarded since 1955, the fellowship acknowledges outstanding achievements in early science careers.

“Dr. Huber is a rising star in the field of stellar astrophysics and exoplanet science,” said IfA Interim Director Bob McLaren, who nominated Huber for the award. “Already at this early stage of his career, he has led a large number of influential studies advancing our understanding of the properties of stars and planets in our galaxy, In particular, he has pioneered the use of asteroseismology for determining the radii and masses of exoplanet host stars, from which are derived these same properties of the exoplanets themselves.”

Huber and his team have been measuring wave frequencies traveling around exoplanet host stars to determine these stars’ mass, size and age. With the resulting data, scientists are able to characterize the planets that orbit them. This scientific method—called asteroseismology—is now the leading technique for determining the radii and mass of exoplanets.

Artist’s concept of a rocky Earth-sized exoplanet in the habitable zone of its host star. NASA/SETI/JPL image.

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Huber’s studies of stars and their planets have used data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, the European Gaia Mission and ground-based observatories on Maunakea. He is now leading related studies using the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), NASA’s newest planet hunting telescope that launched in April 2018.

Huber has been a faculty member at UH’s IfA since January 2017. He majored in astronomy at the University of Vienna, Austria, and obtained his PhD in astrophysics at the University of Sydney, Australia. After spending a total of five years as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and at the University of Sydney, Australia, he came to UH Mānoa.

Huber is the third Sloan Fellow recipient from IfA in the last 15 years.

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