Nolan R. Walborn

Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

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Publications (269)738.44 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We introduce a HST/STIS stellar census of R136a, the central ionizing star cluster of 30 Doradus. We present low resolution far-ultraviolet STIS/MAMA spectroscopy of R136 using 17 contiguous 52×0.2 arcsec slits which together provide complete coverage of the central 0.85 parsec (3.4 arcsec). We provide spectral types of 90% of the 57 sources brighter than mF555W = 16.0 mag within a radius of 0.5 parsec of R136a1, plus 8 additional nearby sources including R136b (O4 If/WN8). We measure wind velocities for 52 early-type stars from C ivλλ1548–51, including 16 O2–3 stars. For the first time we spectroscopically classify all Weigelt & Baier members of R136a, which comprise three WN5 stars (a1-a3), two O supergiants (a5-a6) and three early O dwarfs (a4, a7, a8). A complete Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for the most massive O stars in R136 is provided, from which we obtain a cluster age of 1.5$^{+0.3}_{-0.7}$ Myr. In addition, we discuss the integrated ultraviolet spectrum of R136, and highlight the central role played by the most luminous stars in producing the prominent He ii λ1640 emission line. This emission is totally dominated by very massive stars with initial masses above ∼100M⊙. The presence of strong He iiλ1640 emission in the integrated light of very young star clusters (e.g A1 in NGC 3125) favours an initial mass function extending well beyond a conventional upper limit of 100 M⊙. We include montages of ultraviolet spectroscopy for LMC O stars in the Appendix. Future studies in this series will focus on optical STIS/CCD medium resolution observations.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2016 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: We study the O-type star HD 161853, which has been noted as a probable double-lined spectroscopic binary system. We secured high-resolution spectra of HD 161853 during the past nine years. We separated the two components in the system and measured their respective radial velocities for the first time. We confirm that HD 161853 is an $\sim$1 Ma old binary system consisting of an O8 V star ($M_{\rm A,RV} \geq 22$ M$_\odot$) and a B1--3 V star ($M_{\rm B,RV} \geq 7.2$ M$_\odot$) at about 1.3 kpc. From the radial velocity curve, we measure an orbital period $P$ = 2.66765$\pm$0.00001 d and an eccentricity $e$ = 0.121$\pm$0.007. Its $V$-band light curve is constant within 0.014 mag and does not display eclipses, from which we impose a maximum orbital inclination $i=54$ deg. HD 161853 is probably associated with an H II region and a poorly investigated very young open cluster. In addition, we detect a compact emission region at 50 arcsec to HD 161853 in 22$\mu$m-WISE and 24$\mu$m-Spitzer images, which may be identified as a dust wave piled up by the radiation pressure of the massive binary system.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: Aims. We present the first orbital solution for the O-type supergiant star HD 74194, which is the optical counterpart of the supergiant fast X-ray transient IGR J08408-4503. Methods. We measured the radial velocities in the optical spectrum of HD 74194, and we determined the orbital solution for the first time. We also analysed the complex H{\alpha} profile. Results. HD 74194 is a binary system composed of an O-type supergiant and a compact object in a short-period ($P=9.5436\pm0.0002$ d) and high-eccentricity ($e=0.63\pm0.03$) orbit. The equivalent width of the H{\alpha} line is not modulated entirely with the orbital period, but seems to vary in a superorbital period ($P=285\pm10$ d) nearly 30 times longer than the orbital one.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    Full-text · Dataset · Sep 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Extremely broad emission wings at H$\beta$ and H$\alpha$ have been found in VFTS data for five very luminous BA supergiants in or near 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The profiles of both lines are extremely asymmetrical, which we have found to be caused by very broad diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) in the longward wing of H$\beta$ and the shortward wing of H$\alpha$. These DIBs are well known to interstellar but not to many stellar specialists, so that the asymmetries may be mistaken for intrinsic features. The broad emission wings are generally ascribed to electron scattering, although we note difficulties for that interpretation in some objects. Such profiles are known in some Galactic hyper/supergiants and are also seen in both active and quiescent Luminous Blue Variables. No prior or current LBV activity is known in these 30 Dor stars, although a generic relationship to LBVs is not excluded; subject to further observational and theoretical investigation, it is possible that these very luminous supergiants are approaching the LBV stage for the first time. Their locations in the HRD and presumed evolutionary tracks are consistent with that possibility. The available evidence for spectroscopic variations of these objects is reviewed, while recent photometric monitoring does not reveal variability. A search for circumstellar nebulae has been conducted, with an indeterminate result for one of them.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · The Astrophysical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: The Of?p star CPD −28°2561 was monitored at high energies with XMM–Newton and HST. In X-rays, this magnetic oblique rotator displays bright and hard emission that varies by ∼55 per cent with rotational phase. These changes occur in phase with optical variations, as expected for magnetically confined winds; there are two maxima and two minima in X-rays during the 73 d rotational period of CPD −28°2561. However, contrary to previously studied cases, no significant hardness variation is detected between minima and maxima, with the exception of the second minimum which is slightly distinct from the first one. In the UV domain, broad-band fluxes remain stable while line profiles display large variations. Stronger absorptions at low velocities are observed when the magnetic equator is seen edge-on, which can be reproduced by a detailed 3D model. However, a difference in absorption at high velocities in the C iv and N v lines is also detected for the two phases where the confined wind is seen nearly pole-on. This suggests the presence of strong asymmetries about the magnetic equator, mostly in the free-flowing wind (rather than in the confined dynamical magnetosphere).
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: Optical spectroscopic monitoring has been conducted of two O stars in the Small and one in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the spectral characteristics of which place them in the Of?p category, which has been established in the Galaxy to consist of oblique magnetic rotators. All of these Magellanic stars show systematic spectral variations typical of the Of?p class, further strengthening their magnetic candidacy to the point of virtual certainty. The spectral variations are related to photometric variations derived from OGLE data by Naze et al. (2015) in a parallel study, which yields rotational periods for two of them. Now circular spectropolarimetry is required to measure their fields, and ultraviolet spectroscopy to further characterize their low-metallicity, magnetically confined winds, in support of hydrodynamical analyses.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · The Astronomical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: The Of?p star CPD -28 2561 was monitored at high energies with XMM-Newton and HST. In X-rays, this magnetic oblique rotator displays bright and hard emission that varies by ~55% with rotational phase. These changes occur in phase with optical variations, as expected for magnetically confined winds; there are two maxima and two minima in X-rays during the 73d rotational period of CPD -28 2561. However, contrary to previously studied cases, no significant hardness variation is detected between minima and maxima, with the exception of the second minimum which is slightly distinct from the first one. In the UV domain, broad-band fluxes remain stable while line profiles display large variations. Stronger absorptions at low velocities are observed when the magnetic equator is seen edge-on, which can be reproduced by a detailed 3D model. However, a difference in absorption at high velocities in the CIV and NV lines is also detected for the two phases where the confined wind is seen nearly pole-on. This suggests the presence of strong asymmetries about the magnetic equator, mostly in the free-flowing wind (rather than in the confined dynamical magnetosphere).
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Context: It appears that most (if not all) massive stars are born in multiple systems. At the same time, the most massive binaries are hard to find due to their low numbers throughout the Galaxy and the implied large distances and extinctions. AIMS: We want to study: [a] LS III +46 11, identified in this paper as a very massive binary; [b] another nearby massive system, LS III +46 12; and [c] the surrounding stellar cluster, Berkeley 90. Methods: Most of the data used in this paper are multi-epoch high-S/N optical spectra though we also use Lucky Imaging and archival photometry. The spectra are reduced with devoted pipelines and processed with our own software, such as a spectroscopic-orbit code, CHORIZOS, and MGB. Results: LS III +46 11 is identified as a new very-early-O-type spectroscopic binary [O3.5 If* + O3.5 If*] and LS III +46 12 as another early O-type system [O4.5 V((f))]. We measure a 97.2-day period for LS III +46 12 and derive minimum masses of 38.80$\pm$0.83 M_Sol and 35.60$\pm$0.77 M_Sol for its two stars. We measure the extinction to both stars, estimate the distance, search for optical companions, and study the surrounding cluster. In doing so, a variable extinction is found as well as discrepant results for the distance. We discuss possible explanations and suggest that LS III +46 12 may be a hidden binary system, where the companion is currently undetected.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: Massive stars burn hydrogen through the CNO cycle during most of their evolution. When mixing is efficient, or when mass transfer in binary systems happens, chemically processed material is observed at the surface of O and B stars. ON stars show stronger lines of nitrogen than morphologically normal counterparts. Whether this corresponds to the presence of material processed through the CNO cycle or not is not known. Our goal is to answer this question. We perform a spectroscopic analysis of a sample of ON stars with atmosphere models. We determine the fundamental parameters as well as the He, C, N, and O surface abundances. We also measure the projected rotational velocities. We compare the properties of the ON stars to those of normal O stars. We show that ON stars are usually helium-rich. Their CNO surface abundances are fully consistent with predictions of nucleosynthesis. ON stars are more chemically evolved and rotate - on average - faster than normal O stars. Evolutionary models including rotation cannot account for the extreme enrichment observed among ON main sequence stars. Some ON stars are members of binary systems, but others are single stars as indicated by stable radial velocities. Hence, mass transfer is not a simple explanation for the observed chemical properties. We conclude that ON stars show extreme chemical enrichment at their surface, consistent with nucleosynthesis through the CNO cycle. Its origin is not clear at present.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: Galactic stars belonging to the Of?p category are all strongly magnetic objects exhibiting rotationally modulated spectral and photometric changes on timescales of weeks to years. Five candidate Of?p stars in the Magellanic Clouds have been discovered, notably in the context of ongoing surveys of their massive star populations. Here we describe an investigation of their photometric behaviour, revealing significant variability in all studied objects on timescales of one week to more than four years, including clearly periodic variations for three of them. Their spectral characteristics along with these photometric changes provide further support for the hypothesis that these are strongly magnetized O stars, analogous to the Of?p stars in the Galaxy.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: Context. The stellar population of the 30 Doradus star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud contains a subset of apparently single, rapidly rotating O-type stars. The physical processes leading to the formation of this cohort are currently uncertain. Aims. One member of this group, the late O-type star VFTS 399, is found to be unexpectedly X-ray bright for its bolometric luminosity − in this study we aim to determine its physical nature and the cause of this behaviour. Methods. To accomplish this we performed a time-resolved analysis of optical, infrared and X-ray observations. Results. We found VFTS 399 to be an aperiodic photometric variable with an apparent near-IR excess. Its optical spectrum demonstrates complex emission profiles in the lower Balmer series and select He i lines − taken together these suggest an OeBe classification. The highly variable X-ray luminosity is too great to be produced by a single star, while the hard, non-thermal nature suggests the presence of an accreting relativistic companion. Finally, the detection of periodic modulation of the X-ray lightcurve is most naturally explained under the assumption that the accretor is a neutron star. Conclusions. VFTS 399 appears to be the first high-mass X-ray binary identified within 30 Dor, sharing many observational characteristics with classical Be X-ray binaries. Comparison of the current properties of VFTS 399 to binary-evolution models suggests a progenitor mass ≳25 M_⊙ for the putative neutron star, which may host a magnetic field comparable in strength to those of magnetars. VFTS 399 is now the second member of the cohort of rapidly rotating “single” O-type stars in 30 Dor to show evidence of binary interaction resulting in spin-up, suggesting that this may be a viable evolutionary pathway for the formation of a subset of this stellar population.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We report magnetic and spectroscopic observations and modeling of the Of?p star CPD -28 2561. Using more than 75 new spectra, we have measured the equivalent width variations and examined the dynamic spectra of photospheric and wind-sensitive spectral lines. A period search results in an unambiguous 73.41 d variability period. High resolution spectropolarimetric data analyzed using Least-Squares Deconvolution yield a Zeeman signature detected in the mean Stokes V profile corresponding to phase 0.5 of the spectral ephemeris. Interpreting the 73.41 d period as the stellar rotational period, we have phased the equivalent widths and inferred longitudinal field measurements. The phased magnetic data exhibit a weak sinusoidal variation, with maximum of about 565 G at phase 0.5, and a minimum of about -335 G at phase 0.0, with extrema approximately in phase with the (double-wave) Halpha equivalent width variation. Modeling of the Halpha equivalent width variation assuming a quasi-3D magnetospheric model produces a unique solution for the ambiguous couplet of inclination and magnetic obliquity angles: (i, beta) or (beta, i)=(35 deg,90 deg). Adopting either geometry, the longitudinal field variation yields a dipole polar intensity Bd=2.6\pm 0.9~kG, consistent with that obtained from direct modelling of the Stokes V profiles. We derive a wind magnetic confinement parameter eta*\simeq 100, leading to an Alfv\'en radius RA\simeq 3-5~R*, and a Kepler radius RK\simeq 20~R*. This supports a physical scenario in which the Halpha emission and other line variability have their origin in an oblique, co-rotating 'dynamical magnetosphere' structure resulting from a magnetically channeled wind. Nevertheless, the details of the formation of spectral lines and their variability within this framework remain generally poorly understood.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: We present spectral classifications for 438 B-type stars observed as part of the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey (VFTS) in the 30 Doradus region of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Radial velocities are provided for 307 apparently single stars, and for 99 targets with radial-velocity variations which are consistent with them being spectroscopic binaries. We investigate the spatial distribution of the radial velocities across the 30 Dor region, and use the results to identify candidate runaway stars. Excluding potential runaways and members of two older clusters in the survey region (SL 639 and Hodge 301), we determine a systemic velocity for 30 Dor of 271.6 +/- 12.2 km/s from 273 presumed single stars. Employing a 3-sigma criterion we identify nine candidate runaway stars (2.9% of the single stars with radial-velocity estimates). The projected rotational velocities of the candidate runaways appear to be significantly different to those of the full B-type sample, with a strong preference for either large (>345 km/s) or small (<65 km/s) rotational velocities. Of the candidate runaways, VFTS 358 (classified B0.5: V) has the largest differential radial velocity (-106.9 +/- 16.2 km/s), and a preliminary atmospheric analysis finds a significantly enriched nitrogen abundance of 12+log(N/H) > ~8.5. Combined with a large rotational velocity (vsini = 345 +/- 22 km/s), this is suggestive of past binary interaction for this star.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: CAFÉ-BEANS is an on-going survey running on the 2.2 m telescope at Calar Alto. For more than two years, CAFÉ-BEANS has been collecting high-resolution spectra of early-type stars with the aim of detecting and characterising spectroscopic binaries. The main goal of this project is a thorough characterisation of multiplicity in high-mass stars by detecting all spectroscopic and visual binaries in a large sample of Galactic O-type stars, and solving their orbits. Our final objective is eliminating all biases in the high-mass-star IMF created by undetected binaries.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Context. Model atmosphere analyses have been previously undertaken for both Galactic and extragalactic B-type supergiants. By contrast, little attention has been given to a comparison of the properties of single supergiants and those that are members of multiple systems. Aims. Atmospheric parameters and nitrogen abundances have been estimated for all the B-type supergiants identified in the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula survey. These include both single targets and binary candidates. The results have been analysed to investigate the role of binarity in the evolutionary history of supergiants. Methods. tlusty non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) model atmosphere calculations have been used to determine atmospheric parameters and nitrogen abundances for 34 single and 18 binary supergiants. Effective temperatures were deduced using the silicon balance technique, complemented by the helium ionisation in the hotter spectra. Surface gravities were estimated using Balmer line profiles and microturbulent velocities deduced using the silicon spectrum. Nitrogen abundances or upper limits were estimated from the N ii spectrum. The effects of a flux contribution from an unseen secondary were considered for the binary sample. Results. We present the first systematic study of the incidence of binarity for a sample of B-type supergiants across the theoretical terminal age main sequence (TAMS). To account for the distribution of effective temperatures of the B-type supergiants it may be necessary to extend the TAMS to lower temperatures. This is also consistent with the derived distribution of mass discrepancies, projected rotational velocities and nitrogen abundances, provided that stars cooler than this temperature are post-red supergiant objects. For all the supergiants in the Tarantula and in a previous FLAMES survey, the majority have small projected rotational velocities. The distribution peaks at about 50 km s^(-1) with 65% in the range 30 km s^(-1) ≤ v_e sin i ≤ 60 km s^(-1). About ten per cent have larger v_e sin i (≥100 km s^(-1)), but surprisingly these show little or no nitrogen enhancement. All the cooler supergiants have low projected rotational velocities of ≤70 km s^(-1) and high nitrogen abundance estimates, implying that either bi-stability braking or evolution on a blue loop may be important. Additionally, there is a lack of cooler binaries, possibly reflecting the small sample sizes. Single-star evolutionary models, which include rotation, can account for all of the nitrogen enhancement in both the single and binary samples. The detailed distribution of nitrogen abundances in the single and binary samples may be different, possibly reflecting differences in their evolutionary history. Conclusions. The first comparative study of single and binary B-type supergiants has revealed that the main sequence may be significantly wider than previously assumed, extending to T_(eff) = 20 000 K. Some marginal differences in single and binary atmospheric parameters and abundances have been identified, possibly implying non-standard evolution for some of the sample. This sample as a whole has implications for several aspects of our understanding of the evolutionary status of blue supergiants.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: In this poster we present three developments related to the Galactic O-Star Spectroscopic Survey (GOSSS). First, we are making public the first version of MGB, an IDL code that allows the user to compare oberved spectra to a grid of spectroscopic standards to measure spectral types, luminosity classes, rotation indexes, and spectral qualifiers. Second, we present the associated grid of standard stars for the spectral types O2 to O9.7, with several improvements over the original GOSSS grid of Sota et al. (2011). Third, we present a list of egregious classification errors in SIMBAD: stars that are or have been listed there as being of O type but that in reality are late-type stars.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Based on a large sample of spectra from the Galactic O-Star Spectroscopic Survey (GOSSS, Maíz Apellániz et al. 2011) a systematic study of the Galactic O dwarfs belonging to the luminosity subclass Vz is being performed. Preliminary results suggest a redefinition of the quantitative criterion to assign the "z" qualifier to the spectra.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Determining the distance to the open cluster M29 (NGC 6913) has proven difficult, with distances determined by various authors differing by a factor of two or more. To solve this problem, we have initiated a new photometric investigation of the cluster in the Vilnius seven-color photometric system supplementing it with available data in the BV and JHK_s photometric systems, and spectra of the nine brightest stars of spectral classes O and B. Photometric spectral classes and luminosities of 260 stars in a 15 arcmin x 15 arcmin area down to V = 19 mag are used to investigate the interstellar extinction run with distance and to estimate the distance of the Great Cygnus Rift, 800 pc. The interstellar reddening law in the optical and near-infrared regions is found to be close to normal, with the ratio of extinction to color excess R(BV) = 2.87. The extinction A(V) of cluster members is between 2.5 to 3.8 mag, with a mean value of 2.97 mag or E(B-V) = 1.03. The average distance of eight stars of spectral types O9-B2 is 1.54 +- 0.15 kpc. Two stars from the seven brightest ones are field stars: HDE 229238 is a background B0.5 supergiant and HD 194378 is a foreground F star. In the intrinsic color-magnitude diagram, seven fainter stars of spectral classes B3-B8 are identified as possible members of the cluster. The 15 selected members of the cluster of spectral classes O9--B8 plotted on the log L/L(sun) vs. log T(eff) diagram, together with the isochrones from the Padova database, give the age of the cluster as 5 +- 1 Myr.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · The Astronomical Journal
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    ABSTRACT: The evolution and fate of very massive stars (VMS) is tightly connected to their mass-loss properties. Their initial and final masses differ significantly as a result of mass loss. VMS have strong stellar winds and extremely high ionising fluxes, which are thought to be critical sources of both mechanical and radiative feedback in giant Hii regions. However, how VMS mass-loss properties change during stellar evolution is poorly understood. In the framework of the VLT-Flames Tarantula Survey (VFTS), we explore the mass-loss transition region from optically thin O to denser WNh star winds, thereby testing theoretical predictions. To this purpose we select 62 O, Of, Of/WN, and WNh stars, an unprecedented sample of stars with the highest masses and luminosities known. We perform a spectral analysis of optical VFTS as well as near-infrared VLT/SINFONI data using the non-LTE radiative transfer code CMFGEN to obtain stellar and wind parameters. For the first time, we observationally resolve the transition between optically thin O and optically thick WNh star winds. Our results suggest the existence of a kink between both mass-loss regimes, in agreement with recent MC simulations. For the optically thick regime, we confirm the steep dependence on the Eddington factor from previous theoretical and observational studies. The transition occurs on the MS near a luminosity of 10^6.1Lsun, or a mass of 80...90Msun. Above this limit, we find that - even when accounting for moderate wind clumping (with f = 0.1) - wind mass-loss rates are enhanced with respect to standard prescriptions currently adopted in stellar evolution calculations. We also show that this results in substantial helium surface enrichment. Based on our spectroscopic analyses, we are able to provide the most accurate ionising fluxes for VMS known to date, confirming the pivotal role of VMS in ionising and shaping their environments.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics

Publication Stats

4k Citations
738.44 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1987-2015
    • Space Telescope Science Institute
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2012
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2011
    • University of Leeds
      • School of Physics and Astronomy
      Leeds, England, United Kingdom
  • 2010
    • The Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
      Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 1995
    • NASA
      • Goddard Space Flight Centre
      Вашингтон, West Virginia, United States
  • 1990
    • Princeton University
      Princeton, New Jersey, United States