Spencer Wolfe, a student in the West Virginia University Department of Physics, was recently awarded the prestigious Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award by the American Astronomical Society.

The award is given to a student who presented exemplary research in a poster session at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Wolfe traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, to present his research.

Wolfe has been observing a bridge of hydrogen gas between our two neighboring galaxies that was originally discovered in the Netherlands in 2004. After a year of work, Wolfe has successfully mapped out the hydrogen bridge. It took more than 400 hours of dedicated research at the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Radio Telescope, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope, but Wolfe is now ready to move on to the next step of the research: identifying where the gas came from.

“I feel honored that my work is considered interesting and important enough to receive such an award,” Wolfe said. “To have someone come up and tell you that your research is cool or tell me that I taught them something new, furthers my sense of pride for the research I do.”

The idea for the research originally came from Jay Lockman, who not only works as an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, but is also an adjunct professor in the WVU Physics Department. Lockman had originally done some research on the hydrogen bridge before inviting Wolfe and his professor and mentor, Daniel (D.J.) Pisano, an assistant professor in the physics department, to continue the project.

“Both D.J. and Jay have provided a tremendous amount of help along the way. Both are experts in the area of research and also in understanding the operation of the Green Bank Telescope,” Wolfe said. “The staff located in Green Bank have also been very helpful and deserve some of the credit as well.”

Wolfe also worked with Edward Shaya and Stacy McGaugh of the University of Maryland on the project. He believes that this research may even continue after graduation and could possibly turn into a postdoctoral position.

For more information, contact D.J. Pisano, at 304-293-4886 or DJpisano@mail.wvu.edu

-WVU-

ap/7/2/12

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