Physics graduate student earns Rodger Doxsey Prize

Author: Stephanie Healey

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Brian Hayden, a graduate student in the Department of Physics, has been awarded the Rodger Doxsey Prize from the American Astronomical Society (AAS).  The prize, established in 2011, provides graduate students or postdoctoral researchers, within one year of receiving or receipt of their Ph.D., a monetary prize to travel to the AAS winter meeting to give an oral presentation of their dissertation.

Hayden, who works with Professor Peter Garnavich, studies type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), which are important cosmic distance indicators. These supernovae were also pivotal in the discovery of Dark Energy, the mysterious force that drives the acceleration of the expansion of the universe. He has examined SNe IAa from cosmological perspective, in order to improve estimates of the distance to each supernova, and has studied their progenitor systems, since the nature of the stellar system that produces these explosions is not fully understood.   Hayden’s current research focuses on the environments of SNe Ia, particularly looking at the evolution of their host galaxies to gain more knowledge about the expansion of the universe.  He is working towards determining what effect a supernovae’s environment has on distance estimates, and what the environment can indicate about their progenitors. 

The American Astronomical Society is the leading organization of professional astronomers in North America and works to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the Universe. Hayden is the first Notre Dame graduate student to win the Doxsey Prize and will present his dissertation at the 2013 AAS winter meeting in Long Beach, Calif. which will be held January 6-10.