Live! from AAS 2018: The Latest News from NASA Astrophysics

January 2018

Briefing date: January 11, 2018 (3:30pm EST)


Dr. Brandon Lawton (STScI) and James Manning (Universe of Learning)


  • Dr. Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez (SOFIA Science Center), “SOFIA/HAWC+ POLARIZATION IN GALAXIES: It’s All About the Magnetic Fields”

  • Dr. Francisco Muller-Sanchez (CU-Boulder), “Black Hole Double Burp”

  • Dr. Geert Barentsen (NASA Ames), “A Near-Resonant Chain of Five Sub-Neptune Planets Found by Citizen Scientists”

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Please join us for this special edition of the Universe of Learning Science Briefings! We will be live at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., where scientists will be releasing the latest findings on the universe. We’ll provide access to some of the breaking news coming out of NASA Astrophysics missions, and tie these results to NASA’s Big Questions:

  • How Does the Universe Work?

  • How Did We Get Here?

  • Are We Alone?

In addition to the new science results, we will highlight several NASA resources. Some of the resources are making their debut at the AAS meeting. There will also be opportunities for you to ask questions directly of those presenting.


Dr. Brandon Lawton is an education and outreach scientist in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). He got his PhD in astronomy at New Mexico State University in 2008, followed by a postdoctoral position at STScI where he used Spitzer Space Telescope data to explore star formation in our neighboring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds. Dr. Lawton has been a member of the Office of Public Outreach since 2011 where he works with the Hubble, JWST, and WFIRST communications teams, as well as with the broader NASA science education community, via NASA’s Universe of Learning, to deliver accurate cutting-edge science content to learners of all ages..

Jim Manning is a science education consultant with long experience as a planetarium director, including in a museum setting. Most recently, he has served as head of the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and as Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in San Francisco. He’s a past president of the International Planetarium Society, and has been Principal Investigator or Co-PI for a number of NASA-funded and NSF-funded programs in informal science education. He currently consults for the Universe of Learning program.

Dr. Enrique Lopez-Rodriguez’s research focuses on active galactic nuclei, or AGN, as seen with the highest angular resolution and polarimetric techniques. This research focused on the characterization of the obscuring dusty material surrounding the AGN from a magneto-hydrodynamical framework. He serves as a USRA’s High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-plus (HAWC+) instrument scientist at the SOFIA Science Center in Mountain View, California.

Dr. Francisco Muller-Sanchez is currently a Research Associate at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at CU-Boulder. He received his PhD degree in physics and astronomy from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, working at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. His research focuses on galaxy formation and evolution, with interests ranging from the physical properties of active galactic nuclei (AGN) and nuclear star clusters, to the role of supermassive black holes (SMBH) in the evolution of galaxies, galaxy mergers and the cosmic evolution of the relations between the central black hole and its host galaxy. He uses multiwavelength analyses for these studies, with a focus on the optical/near-IR and radio regimes.
Dr. Geert Barentsen is an astrophysicist at NASA's Ames Research Center and the guest observer office director of NASA's Kepler and K2 Missions. Geert manages a team of astronomers tasked with helping scientists across the world make the best possible use of the valuable and unique scientific data from the Kepler and K2 missions. He earned a PhD in astrophysics from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland where he studied star formation using narrow-band photometry.