Quest for Other Worlds: Diversity and Origins
Ray Jayawardhana is a professor at the University of Toronto, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics. He uses many of the world's largest telescopes to explore planetary origins and diversity, as well as the formation of stars and brown dwarfs. He is also an award-winning science writer, the author of Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System (Princeton University Press, 2011), a creator of innovative science outreach programs, a popular speaker, and a frequent commentator for the media.
Jayawardhana's research at Radcliffe will focus on the detection and characterization of extrasolar planets using high-precision observations. He hopes to advance our understanding of two types of "extreme worlds"—close-in planets seen in transit and far-out planets that can be directly imaged. He will also continue his science writing and outreach efforts.
Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Jayawardhana holds a BS from Yale University and a PhD from Harvard University. His research findings have made headlines worldwide on numerous occasions and led to a variety of accolades, including the Early Researcher Award, the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship, the Professor M. K. Vainu Bappu Gold Medal, and the Steacie Prize. He has also been named to Canada's Top 40 Under 40.
Re'em Sari is a professor of astrophysics at the Racah Institute of Physics, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He studies a variety of astrophysical phenomena, from the creation of planets in our solar system and around other suns to the mighty explosions of massive stars known as gamma-ray bursts.
At Radcliffe, Sari will study the physics of the very early stages of supernovas. When the core of a star collapses, a shock travels through its envelope. Near the stellar edge, where the density is low, the shock wave accelerates and, ultimately, the energy in the shock wave escapes. A deeper understanding of this process may reveal the nature of exploding stars and their connection with gamma-ray bursts. In addition, Sari will use theories of planet formation to address questions in our own solar system, such as the size distribution of objects in the Kuiper belt and the spin rates of asteroids.
Sari has received the Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy from the American Astronomical Society and the François Frenkiel Award for Fluid Mechanics from the American Physical Society. He has been selected as a Packard Fellow, a Sloan Research Fellow, and, recently, a Guggenheim Fellow. Sari, who earned a PhD in astrophysics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is the chairperson of the Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem.