5 Researchers And Writers Making Waves In Astronomy

As space travel and advancements in technology become increasingly accessible to the general public, many laypeople are expressing a growing interest in astronomy. Astronomers who are also communicators have been creating content for this audience, generating a fascination with the study of space. In no particular order, here are some researchers and writers advancing the discipline through scholarship, technology, art, and education.

Starting off at #1 is Dr. Jose Francisco Salgado, an astronomer, experimental photographer, visual artist, and public speaker who creates multidisciplinary projects where art is used as a vehicle to communicate science. Dr. Salgado's flagship project is his Science & Symphony series, which consists of films produced to accompany performances of specific classical music works.

The Science & Symphony films led to the formation of KV 265, a non-profit organization that aims to communicate science through art to communities worldwide. It seeks to heighten the appreciation and understanding of art, music, and technology, and to inspire further exploration of these disciplines among audiences.

Next at #2 is Ramin Skibba, an astrophysicist turned science writer and freelance journalist based in San Diego. He previously worked as a research scientist and lecturer in astrophysics at the University of California, San Diego. Skibba has since moved on to freelance writing after completing a full-time internship with Nature magazine.

Skibba's writing revolves around astronomy, physics, space exploration, and how they intersect with popular culture and politics. The challenge of environmental sustainability and the future of space travel, and the threat of an arms race, are among his topics of interest.

At #3 we have Christopher Berry, a research professor at Northwestern University and a lecturer at the University of Glasgow. Berry is a theoretical physicist, who has segued into observational astronomy through the study of gravitational-wave data and compact object astrophysics. This involves the study of space objects of extremely dense mass, such as black holes and neutron stars.

Berry is an active member of the Scientific Collaboration of LIGO, or Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, where he analyzes data gathered from observations. LIGO is the largest detector of its kind on the planet, capable of measuring gravitational waves emitted throughout the universe. The data from its observations could one day shift the paradigm of how the universe is visualized.

Arriving at #4 is Dr. Katherine Mack, a theoretical astrophysicist who studies a range of questions in cosmology, the study of the universe from beginning to end, and teaches as an Assistant Professor of Physics at North Carolina State University. Throughout her career, Dr. Mack has studied dark matter, the early universe, star formation, black holes, and the ultimate fate of the cosmos.

Dr. Mack's book, The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), takes the reader through five universe-ending possibilities proposed by cosmologists, extrapolated from astronomical observations and particle experiments that can tell us how our cosmos might reach its ultimate demise.

Finally, at #5 is Toni Sagrista Selles, a computer scientist with a graduate degree in astrophysics, who is interested in the synthesis of astronomy and computer visualization. Selles works in the Gaia group of the Astronomical Calculation Institute at Heidelberg University.

Gaia is an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our galaxy, the Milky Way, while uncovering more about its physical properties in the process. It strives to provide unprecedented accuracy in the measurements needed to produce a visualization and census of about one billion stars in the Milky Way.