Awards and Honors
UCSC astronomer awarded top high-energy astronomy
By Tim Stephens
Stan Woosley, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC,
has won this year's Bruno Rossi Prize for his pioneering work
on supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, the most violent explosions
in the universe. The prize is awarded each year by the High
Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society.
Photo: Tim Stephens
Woosley, an expert in theoretical astrophysics, is being recognized
for his detailed modeling of supernovae--the massive explosions
of dying stars. Woosley's work on the evolution of massive stars
and their explosion as supernovae describes how the "heavy"
elements needed for life, such as oxygen and iron, are forged
and ejected. In addition, Woosley's "collapsar" model
of massive star explosions has recently been identified as the
central engine of some gamma-ray bursts, a major breakthrough
in this field.
"There's something terribly attractive about a titanic
explosion, as long as it occurs far enough away," Woosley
said. "To think that the same explosions that make black
holes and neutron stars are also creating the elements of life
still continues to amaze me. I am honored to receive the Rossi
Prize for what has been such rewarding work with so many bright
students and colleagues."
The Rossi Prize is given in recognition of significant contributions
as well as recent and original work in high-energy astrophysics.
The prize is in honor of Bruno Rossi, an authority on cosmic-ray
physics and a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy. The prize
also includes an engraved certificate and a $1,500 award.
Woosley was recently awarded the American Physical Society's
2005 Hans Bethe Prize, which recognizes outstanding work in
the area of astrophysics, nuclear physics, and related fields.
He received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Division
of Physical and Biological Sciences at UCSC in 2003-04. He was
elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
in 2001 and a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1987.
Woosley is a co-investigator on the HETE-II collaboration,
a NASA mission devoted to the study of gamma-ray bursts that
was launched in 2000. He is also the director of the Center
for Supernova Research at UCSC. He has published more than 300
A computer simulation of a gamma-ray burst developed by Woosley
and two of his former graduate students, Andrew MacFadyen and
Weiqun Zhang, can be viewed at the NASA
web site (third animation).
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