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2018 Hale Prize for Solar Astronomy Goes to Sarbani Basu

Press Release From: Yale University
Posted: Monday, February 5, 2018

Dr. Sarbani Basu, a solar physicist at Yale University, has been awarded a high honor by her colleagues. The George Ellery Hale Prize for outstanding contributions to the field of solar astronomy is given out yearly by the Solar Physics Division (SPD) of the American Astronomical Society and for 2018 goes to Dr. Basu for more than two decades of work to better understand the Sun and other stars by using data on how they “ring.”

“Stars like the Sun quake all the time, so much so that they ‘ring’ like bells. Each one rings with a specific set of frequencies, or tones. These tones and overtones are related to the star’s internal structure. I use this connection to find out about the internal structure of stars, which is otherwise hidden from us,” said Dr. Basu as she was describing her work. “If we were to study the Sun on its own, we could not possibly determine what it would have ‘sounded’ like when it was younger or how it might ring when it’s older. The study of other stars, some more massive than the Sun and some less massive, some older and some younger, gives us the context in which to interpret our observations of the Sun.”

“Dr. Basu has a sustained, outstanding quality of work over an extended period of time and has made substantial contributions across a most impressive range of topics in solar and stellar physics,” said Dr. Haiman Wang, chair of the SPD prize committee. “The extremely productive linkages that she has built between solar and stellar astrophysics have benefited all of solar physics.”

Dr. Basu stated that she was “flabbergasted” when she got the call informing her that she was the recipient of the prize. “Of course it is wonderful to know that my peers think my work is important. George Ellery Hale was one of the pioneers of solar physics, and to receive the prize named after him is a great honor.” Dr. Basu plans to continue her work using NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the upcoming Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, which will allow her to observe the ringing of a larger collection of stars.

Contacts:
Jim Shelton
Senior Communications Officer for Science & Medicine
Office of Public Affairs & Communications
Yale University
james.shelton@yale.edu
+1 (203) 432-3881

Dr. Henry “Trae” Winter
SPD Press Officer
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
hwinter@cfa.harvard.edu
+1 (617) 495-7400

The purpose of the AAS Solar Physics Division (SPD) is the advancement of the study of the Sun and the coordination of such research with other branches of science. The SPD holds annual scientific meetings, awards several prizes, and supports students in various ways.

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