P. Coppi

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States

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Publications (245)498.03 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present multi-epoch optical spectroscopy of seven southern Fermi-monitored blazars from 2008 - 2013 using the Small and Medium Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS), with supplemental spectroscopy and polarization data from the Steward Observatory. We find that the emission lines are much less variable than the continuum; 4 of 7 blazars had no detectable emission line variability over the 5 years. This is consistent with photoionization primarily by an accretion disk, allowing us to use the lines as a probe of disk activity. Comparing optical emission line flux with Fermi $\gamma$-ray flux and optical polarized flux, we investigate whether relativistic jet variability is related to the accretion flow. In general, we see no such dependence, suggesting the jet variability is likely caused by internal processes like turbulence or shock acceleration rather than a variable accretion rate. However, three sources showed statistically significant emission line flares in close temporal proximity to very large Fermi $\gamma$-ray flares. While we do not have sufficient emission line data to quantitatively assess their correlation with the $\gamma$-ray flux, it appears that in some cases, the jet might provide additional photoionizing flux to the broad line region, which implies some gamma-rays are produced within the broad line region, at least for these large flares.
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    ABSTRACT: The broad energy range spanned by ASTRO-H instruments, from ~0.3 to 600 keV, with its high spectral resolution calorimeter and sensitive hard X-ray imaging, offers unique opportunities to study black holes and their environments. The ability to measure polarization is particularly novel, with potential sources including blazars, Galactic pulsars and X-ray binaries. In this White Paper, we present an overview of the synergistic instrumental capabilities and the improvements over prior missions. We also show how ASTRO-H fits into the multi-wavelength landscape. We present in more detail examples and simulations of key science ASTRO-H can achieve in a typical 100 ksec observation when data from all four instruments are combined. Specifically, we consider observations of black-hole source (Cyg X-1 and GRS 1915+105), blazars (Mrk 421 and Mrk 501), a quasar (3C 273), radio galaxies (Centaurus A and 3C 120), and active galaxies with a strong starburst (Circinus and NGC 4945). We will also address possible new discoveries expected from ASTRO-H.
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    ABSTRACT: The joint JAXA/NASA ASTRO-H mission is the sixth in a series of highly successful X-ray missions developed by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), with a planned launch in 2015. The ASTRO-H mission is equipped with a suite of sensitive instruments with the highest energy resolution ever achieved at E > 3 keV and a wide energy range spanning four decades in energy from soft X-rays to gamma-rays. The simultaneous broad band pass, coupled with the high spectral resolution of Delta E < 7 eV of the micro-calorimeter, will enable a wide variety of important science themes to be pursued. ASTRO-H is expected to provide breakthrough results in scientific areas as diverse as the large-scale structure of the Universe and its evolution, the behavior of matter in the gravitational strong field regime, the physical conditions in sites of cosmic-ray acceleration, and the distribution of dark matter in galaxy clusters at different redshifts.
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    ABSTRACT: We present well-sampled UBVRIJHK photometry of SN 2002fk starting 12 days before maximum light through 122 days after peak brightness, along with a series of 15 optical spectra from –4 to +95 days since maximum. Our observations show the presence of C II lines in the early-time spectra of SN 2002fk, expanding at 11,000 km s–1 and persisting until 8 days past maximum light with a velocity of ~9000 km s–1. SN 2002fk is characterized by a small velocity gradient of km s–1 day–1, possibly caused by an off-center explosion with the ignition region oriented toward the observer. The connection between the viewing angle of an off-center explosion and the presence of C II in the early-time spectrum suggests that the observation of C II could be also due to a viewing angle effect. Adopting the Cepheid distance to NGC 1309 we provide the first H 0 value based on near-infrared (near-IR) measurements of a Type Ia supernova (SN) between 63.0 ± 0.8 (±3.4 systematic) and 66.7 ± 1.0 (±3.5 systematic) km s–1 Mpc–1, depending on the absolute magnitude/decline rate relationship adopted. It appears that the near-IR yields somewhat lower (6%-9%) H 0 values than the optical. It is essential to further examine this issue by (1) expanding the sample of high-quality near-IR light curves of SNe in the Hubble flow, and (2) increasing the number of nearby SNe with near-IR SN light curves and precise Cepheid distances, which affords the promise to deliver a more precise determination of H 0.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2014; 789(1):89. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/789/1/89 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We perform time-dependent, spatially-resolved simulations of blazar emission to evaluate several flaring scenarios related to magnetic-field amplification and enhanced particle acceleration. The code explicitly accounts for light-travel-time effects and is applied to flares observed in the flat spectrum radio quasar (FSRQ) PKS 0208-512, which show optical/{\gamma}-ray correlation at some times, but orphan optical flares at other times. Changes in both the magnetic field and the particle acceleration efficiency are explored as causes of flares. Generally, external Compton emission appears to describe the available data better than a synchrotron self-Compton scenario, and in particular orphan optical flares are difficult to produce in the SSC framework. X-ray soft-excesses, {\gamma}-ray spectral hardening, and the detections at very high energies of certain FSRQs during flares find natural explanations in the EC scenario with particle acceleration change. Likewise, optical flares with/without {\gamma}-ray counterparts can be explained by different allocations of energy between the magnetization and particle acceleration, which may be related to the orientation of the magnetic field relative to the jet flow. We also calculate the degree of linear polarization and polarization angle as a function of time for a jet with helical magnetic field. Tightening of the magnetic helix immediately downstream of the jet perturbations, where flares occur, can be sufficient to explain the increases in the degree of polarization and a rotation by >= 180 degree of the observed polarization angle, if light-travel-time effects are properly considered.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2014; 441(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu713 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Relativistic jets in blazars produce radio through gamma-ray emission, via synchrotron radiation at long wavelengths and inverse Compton scattering at gamma-ray energies. Variability across these wavelengths allows us to estimate the densities and energies of the radiating particles. Yet, the physics of blazar jets is still uncertain; e.g., it is not clear whether the gamma-rays come from sub- or kilo-parsec scales. The unprecedented temporal and spectral sensitivity of the Fermi Space Telescope has ushered in a new era of discovery and over the past 5 years I have obtained queue-scheduled, nightly optical-infrared (OIR) photometry and bi-weekly optical spectroscopy using the Small and Medium Aperture Research Telescope System (SMARTS) 1.3m+Andicam and 1.5m+RCSpec, in Cerro Tololo, Chile; totaling ~70 gamma-ray bright blazars that are detected nightly with Fermi. In my dissertation, I analyze 5 years of bi-monthly spectroscopy of 6 blazars. I find that the broad lines - which are presumably photoionized by the accretion disk - vary substantially less than the OIR continuum, which is dominated by the Doppler-beamed jet. However, during the largest gamma-ray flares in 3C 454.3 and PKS 1510-089, I see significant broad emission line variations, with lags on the order days and infer that the jet, in its brightest state, contributes significantly to photoionizing the broad-line clouds, meaning the gamma-emitting region is within the broad line region at sub-parsec scales. These variations are not seen at lower gamma-ray fluxes or in any other blazars we observed. I also describe inferences about the jet physics obtained from the SMARTS OIR photometry, which is well correlated with the gamma-ray flux for 11 blazars, with lags of less than one day, strongly supporting the inverse Compton model for gamma-ray production. In addition, color changes in the OIR constrain the ratio of thermal disk to non-thermal jet emission. The color evolution differs by source and also in a given source over timescales of years. In summary, the results of this dissertation provide strong constraints on the location of the gamma-emitting region and the spectral evolution of flaring blazars on short and long timescales.
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    ABSTRACT: Since 2008, we have been monitoring southern-hemisphere blazars at optical and near-infrared (OIR) wavelengths using the SMARTS 1.3m+ANDICAM instrument. Our targets are observed simultaneously with the Fermi Gamma-ray telescope providing us with an opportunity to probe the relative contribution of the thermal and non-thermal emission to the broad-band spectral energy distribution. In this poster we present our results which include OIR light curves that, in some cases, show ‘orphan’ flares in OIR fluxes that are not present in gamma-rays. In addition we see evidence for intra-night variability in some blazars. Discrete correlation functions of simultaneous gamma-ray and OIR fluxes suggest there is no lag or lead time between OIR and gamma-ray fluxes during some flares. Finally, color-magnitude diagrams of some blazars show clear changes in color over flares allowing us to study the evolution of accretion disk vs. jet emission during flaring events.
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    ABSTRACT: We present multi-epoch optical observations of the blazar 3C 454.3 (z = 0.859) from 2008 August through 2011 December, using the SMARTS Consortium 1.5m+RCSpectrograph and 1.3m+ANDICAM in Cerro Tololo, Chile. The spectra reveal that the broad optical emission lines Mg II, H-beta and H-gamma are far less variable than the optical or gamma-ray continuum. Although, the gamma-rays varied by a factor of 100 above the EGRET era flux, the lines generally vary by a factor of 2 or less. Smaller variations in the gamma-ray flux did not produce significant variation in any of the observed emission lines. Therefore, to first order, the ionizing flux from the disk changes only slowly during large variations of the jet. However, two exceptions in the response of the broad emission lines are reported during the largest gamma-ray flares in 2009 December and 2010 November, when significant deviations from the mean line flux in H-gamma and Mg II were observed. H-gamma showed a maximum 3-sigma and 4-sigma deviation in each flare, respectively, corresponding to a factor of 1.7 and 2.5 increase in flux. Mg II showed a 2-sigma deviation in both flares; no variation was detected in H-beta during either flare. These significant deviations from the mean line flux also coincide with 7mm core ejections reported previously (Jorstad et al. 2012). The correlation of the increased emission line flux with mm core ejections, and gamma-ray, optical and UV flares suggests that the broad line region extends beyond the gamma-emitting region during the 2009 and 2010 flares.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2013; 779(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/779/2/100 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As part of a long-term blazar monitoring campaign, we observe gamma-ray bright (as determined by the Fermi Gamma-ray Large Area Telescope) blazars with the SMARTS 1.3m+ANDICAM telescope in Cerro Tololo, Chile. For the past several nights, PKS 2326-502 has been brightening in the optical/IR bands, following an optical flare (ATel #5393) that peaked in O/IR on 28 September 2013 (JD 2456564.6) at R = 14.865.
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    ABSTRACT: Recently we have monitored the blazar 3C 454.3 daily using the ANDICAM instrument on the SMARTS 1.3m telescope in Chile. As already noted by other observers (ATel #5411, ATel #5412) 3C 454.3 is undergoing an increase in optical and near-infrared fluxes, and is exhibiting intra-night variability. Here we report on our most recent optical and near-infrared observations. On 24 Sep 2013 (JD 2456560) we obtained three observations in BVRJK bands, each separated by approximately one hour.
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    ABSTRACT: Recently we have monitored the blazar PKS 1510-089 daily using the ANDICAM instrument on the SMARTS 1.3m telescope in Chile. Since 11 September 2013 (or soon beforehand) PKS 1510-089 has undergone a very short but significant flare in optical and near-infrared (OIR) fluxes. The peak of the flare is comparable, but not as high, as the flare seen in 2009, and it is the highest OIR flux we've observed over the past four years.
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    ABSTRACT: The La Silla-QUEST Low Redshift Supernova Survey is a part of the La Silla-QUEST Southern Hemisphere Variability Survey. The survey uses the 10 deg2 QUEST camera installed at the prime focus of the 1.0-m Schmidt Telescope of the European Southern Observatory at La Silla, Chile, and utilizes essentially all of the observing time of the telescope. The QUEST camera was installed on the ESO Schmidt telescope in 2009 after completing a 5 year variability survey in the northern hemisphere using the 1.2-m Oschin Schmidt telescope at Palomar. La Silla-QUEST started science operations in 2009 September. The low redshift supernova survey commenced in 2011 December and is planned to continue for the next 4 years. In this article we describe the instrumentation, software, operation, and performance characteristics of the survey.
    Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 06/2013; DOI:10.1086/671198 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Since the discovery of kiloparsec-scale X-ray emission from quasar jets, the physical processes responsible for their high-energy emission have been poorly defined. A number of mechanisms are under active debate, including synchrotron radiation, inverse-Comptonized CMB (IC/CMB) emission, and other Comptonization processes. In a number of cases, the optical and X-ray emission of jet regions are inked by a single spectral component, and in those, high- resolution multi-band imaging and polarimetry can be combined to yield a powerful diagnostic of jet emission processes. Here we report on deep imaging photometry of the jet of PKS 1136$-$135 obtained with the {\it Hubble Space Telescope.} We find that several knots are highly polarized in the optical, with fractional polarization $\Pi>30%$. When combined with the broadband spectral shape observed in these regions, this is very difficult to explain via IC/CMB models, unless the scattering particles are at the lowest-energy tip of the electron energy distribution, with Lorentz factor $\gamma \sim 1$, and the jet is also very highly beamed ($\delta \geq 20$) and viewed within a few degrees of the line of sight. We discuss both the IC/CMB and synchrotron interpretation of the X-ray emission in the light of this new evidence, presenting new models of the spectral energy distribution and also the matter content of this jet. The high polarizations do not completely rule out the possibility of IC/CMB optical-to-X-ray emission in this jet, but they do strongly disfavor the model. We discuss the implications of this finding, and also the prospects for future work.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2013; 773(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/773/2/186 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Yale/SMARTS optical-near-IR monitoring program has followed the variations in emission of the Fermi-LAT monitored blazars in the southern sky with closely spaced observations since 2008. We report the discovery of an optical-near-IR (OIR) outburst with no accompanying gamma-rays in the blazar PKS 0208-512, one of the targets of this program. While the source undergoes three outbursts of 1 mag or more at OIR wavelengths lasting for longer than 3 months during 2008-2011, only interval 1 and 3 have corresponding bright phases in GeV energies lasting longer than 1 month. The OIR outburst during interval 2 is comparable in brightness and temporal extent to the OIR flares during intervals 1 and 3 which do have gamma-ray counterparts. Gamma-ray and OIR variability are very well-correlated in most cases in the Fermi blazars and the lack of correlation in this case is anomalous. By analyzing the gamma-ray, OIR, and supporting multi-wavelength variability data in details, we speculate that the location of the outburst in the jet during interval 2 was closer to the black hole where the jet is more compact and the magnetic field strength is higher, and the bulk Lorentz factor of the material in the jet is smaller. These result in a much lower Compton dominance and no observable gamma-ray outburst during interval 2.
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of multi-year gamma-ray observations by the AGILE satellite of the black hole binary system Cygnus X-1. In a previous investigation we focused on gamma-ray observations of Cygnus X-1 in the hard state during the period mid-2007/2009. Here we present the results of the gamma-ray monitoring of Cygnus X-1 during the period 2010/mid-2012 carried out for which includes a remarkably prolonged `soft state' phase (June 2010 -- May 2011). Previous 1--10 MeV observations of Cyg X-1 in this state hinted at a possible existence of a non-thermal particle component with substantial modifications of the Comptonized emission from the inner accretion disk. Our AGILE data, averaged over the mid-2010/mid-2011 soft state of Cygnus X-1, provide a significant upper limit for gamma-ray emission above 100 MeV of F_soft < 20 x 10^{-8} ph/cm^2/s, excluding the existence of prominent non-thermal emission above 100 MeV during the soft state of Cygnus X-1. We discuss theoretical implications of our findings in the context of high-energy emission models of black hole accretion. We also discuss possible gamma-ray flares detected by AGILE. In addition to a previously reported episode observed by AGILE in October 2009 during the hard state, we report a weak but important candidate for enhanced emission which occurred at the end of June 2010 (2010-06-30 10:00 - 2010-07-02 10:00 UT) exactly in coincidence with a hard-to-soft state transition and before an anomalous radio flare. An appendix summarizes all previous high-energy observations and possible detections of Cygnus X-1 above 1 MeV.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2013; 766(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/766/2/83 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is a new observatory for very high-energy (VHE) gamma rays. CTA has ambitions science goals, for which it is necessary to achieve full-sky coverage, to improve the sensitivity by about an order of magnitude, to span about four decades of energy, from a few tens of GeV to above 100 TeV with enhanced angular and energy resolutions over existing VHE gamma-ray observatories. An international collaboration has formed with more than 1000 members from 27 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America. In 2010 the CTA Consortium completed a Design Study and started a three-year Preparatory Phase which leads to production readiness of CTA in 2014. In this paper we introduce the science goals and the concept of CTA, and provide an overview of the project.
    Astroparticle Physics 03/2013; 43:3-18. DOI:10.1016/j.astropartphys.2013.01.007 · 4.45 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST; http://lsst.org) will revolutionize our understanding of active galactic nuclei (AGN) and their environments. The decade-long survey will discover at least 10 million AGN across 18,000 square degrees on the sky, with between about 50 to 200 visits per source for each of the ugrizy filters. A combination of the LSST sub-arcsecond astrometry, six-band photometry, and unprecedented cadence will enable the most efficient AGN selection, with additional characterization through the use of sophisticated star-galaxy separation techniques. The time-domain nature of the survey will provide invaluable information on the physics of the AGN central engine, as well as on transient fueling events, and will allow real-time alerts that will trigger follow-up observations. Several LSST "deep drilling" fields will help discover the faintest AGN at high redshift, enhancing the value of current and planned multiwavelength pencil-beam surveys while providing hours-to-years temporal information on thousands of AGN. The wide ranges of both luminosity and redshift spanned by LSST, including the discovery of over 1000 quasars at z>6.5, will dramatically improve the quantification of the optical AGN luminosity function. Measurements of AGN clustering at high redshift will be used to determine the relationship between AGN and dark matter. The discovery of about 8000 gravitationally lensed quasars, including 1000 systems with measurable time delays, will place significantly tighter constraints on key cosmological parameters.
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of an anomalous flare in a bright blazar, namely, PKS 0208-512, one of the targets of the Yale/SMARTS optical-near-infrared (OIR) monitoring program of Fermi blazars. We identify three intervals during which PKS 0208-512 undergoes outbursts at OIR wavelengths lasting for longer than 3 months. Its brightness increases and then decreases again by at least 1 magnitude in these intervals. In contrast, the source undergoes bright phases in GeV energies lasting for longer than 1 month during intervals 1 and 3 only. The OIR outburst during interval 2 is comparable in brightness and temporal extent to the OIR flares during intervals 1 and 3 which do have gamma-ray counterparts. By analyzing the gamma-ray, OIR, and supporting multi-wavelength variability data in details, we speculate that the OIR outburst during interval 2 was caused by a change in the magnetic field without any change in the total number of emitting electrons or Doppler factor of the emitting region. Alternatively, it is possible that the location of the outburst in the jet during interval 2 was closer to the black hole where the jet is more compact and the bulk Lorentz factor of the material in the jet is smaller. We also discuss the complex OIR spectral behavior during these three intervals.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 12/2012; 763(1). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/763/1/L11 · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The joint JAXA/NASA ASTRO-H mission is the sixth in a series of highly successful X-ray missions initiated by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). ASTRO-H will investigate the physics of the high-energy universe via a suite of four instruments, covering a very wide energy range, from 0.3 keV to 600 keV. These instruments include a high-resolution, high-throughput spectrometer sensitive over 0.3-2 keV with high spectral resolution of Delta E < 7 eV, enabled by a micro-calorimeter array located in the focal plane of thin-foil X-ray optics; hard X-ray imaging spectrometers covering 5-80 keV, located in the focal plane of multilayer-coated, focusing hard X-ray mirrors; a wide-field imaging spectrometer sensitive over 0.4-12 keV, with an X-ray CCD camera in the focal plane of a soft X-ray telescope; and a non-focusing Compton-camera type soft gamma-ray detector, sensitive in the 40-600 keV band. The simultaneous broad bandpass, coupled with high spectral resolution, will enable the pursuit of a wide variety of important science themes.
    Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering 10/2012; DOI:10.1117/12.926190 · 0.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the AGILE-GRID monitoring of Cygnus X-3, during the period between November 2007 and July 2009. We report here the whole AGILE-GRID monitoring of Cygnus X-3 in the AGILE "pointing" mode data-taking, in order to confirm that the gamma-ray activity occurs in coincidence with the same repetitive pattern of multiwavelength emission and to analyze in depth the overall gamma-ray spectrum by assuming both leptonic and hadronic scenarios. Seven intense gamma-ray events were detected in this period, with a typical event lasting 1 or 2 days. Such a duration is longer than the likely cooling times of the gamma-ray emitting particles, implying we are seeing continuous acceleration rather than the result of an impulsive event such as the ejection of a single plasmoid which then cools as it propagates outwards. Cross-correlating the AGILE-GRID light curve with X-ray and radio monitoring data, we find that the main events of gamma-ray activity have been detected while the system was in soft spectral X-ray states (RXTE/ASM count rate > 3 counts/s), coincident with local and often sharp minima of the hard X-ray flux (Swift/BAT count rate < 0.02 counts/cm^2/s), a few days before intense radio outbursts. [...] The gamma-ray events thus may reflect a sharp transition in the structure of the accretion disk and its corona, which leads to a rebirth of the microquasar jet and subsequent enhanced radio activity. [...] Finally, we examine leptonic and hadronic emission models for the gamma-ray events and find that both scenarios may work. In the leptonic model - based on IC scatterings of mildly relativistic electrons on soft photons from the Wolf-Rayet companion star and from the accretion disk - the emitting particles may also contribute to the overall hard X-ray spectrum, possibly explaining the hard non-thermal power-law tail sometimes seen during special soft X-ray states in Cygnus X-3.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 09/2012; 545(545):a110. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201219145 · 4.48 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
498.03 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1996–2015
    • Yale University
      • • Department of Astronomy
      • • Department of Physics
      New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • 2014
    • Carnegie Institution for Science
      • Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
      Washington, West Virginia, United States
  • 2001
    • University of Cambridge
      • Institute of Astronomy
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1999
    • Central University of Venezuela
      Caracas, Distrito Federal, Venezuela
  • 1997
    • McGill University
      • Department of Physics
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
    • Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)
      Batavia, Illinois, United States
    • University of California, Riverside
      Riverside, California, United States
  • 1989
    • California Institute of Technology
      Pasadena, California, United States