The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded an assistant astronomer with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Institute for Astronomy (IfA) with a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship that acknowledges early career scientists and scholars.
Daniel Huber is one of 126 recipients across the U.S. and Canada to receive a two-year Sloan Fellowship this year. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to those whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders.
“Dr. Huber is a rising star in the field of stellar astrophysics and exoplanet science,” said IfA Interim Director Bob McLaren, who nominated Huber for the award. “Already at this early stage of his career, he has led a large number of influential studies advancing our understanding of the properties of stars and planets in our galaxy, In particular, he has pioneered the use of asteroseismology for determining the radii and masses of exoplanet host stars, from which are derived these same properties of the exoplanets themselves.”
Asteroseismology is the study of stellar oscillations. Much like earthquakes are used to study the interior of our home planet, Huber and his team use the frequencies of waves traveling through exoplanet host stars to probe their deep interiors and precisely determine their properties such as size, mass and age. This, in turn, allows the characterization of the planets that orbit them. This technique is now the premier method for precise determination of exoplanet radii and masses.
Huber has led studies of stars and their planets by using data from NASA‘s Kepler space telescope, the European Gaia Mission and ground-based observations from Maunakea. He is currently leading research programs to extend this research using the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, NASA‘s newest planet hunting telescope launched in April last year.