Facebook Icon Youtube Icon Twitter Icon Flickr Icon Vimeo Icon RSS Icon Itunes Icon Pinterest Icon

The Honorable James R. Clapper to Address University of Maryland's 2019 Winter Graduates

October 22, 2019
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, lawsonk@umd.edu, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announced today that James R. Clapper ‘63, former director of national intelligence and author of the best-selling book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence,” will deliver the university’s commencement address on Dec. 17, 2019. Clapper will address thousands of graduates, family and friends during the ceremony at the XFINITY Center.

“During his half century serving our nation’s security, General Clapper earned a reputation for helping unify the Intelligence Services and speaking truth to power.  He has an important message to share with our graduates and this campus,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “We are delighted to welcome him back to his Alma Mater.”

Clapper served as the fourth director of national intelligence from Aug. 9, 2010, to Jan. 20, 2017. In this position, he led the United States intelligence community and served as the principal intelligence adviser to President Barack Obama.

“It is a true honor to be chosen to speak at the University of Maryland’s commencement,” said Clapper. “I look forward to returning to my alma mater to address the graduating class on their momentous day.” 

Clapper’s career began in 1961, when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and culminated as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. His intelligence-related positions over his 32 years in uniform included assistant chief of staff for intelligence at Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and director of intelligence for three combatant commands: U.S. Forces, Korea; Pacific Command; and Strategic Air Command. He served two combat tours during the Southeast Asia conflict, and flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47s over Laos and Cambodia.

Following his retirement from the armed forces in 1995, Clapper worked for six years as an executive in three companies, focusing on the intelligence community. He also served as a consultant and adviser to Congress and to the departments of Defense and Energy, and as a member of a variety of government panels, boards, commissions and advisory groups. He was a senior member of the Downing Assessment Task Force, which investigated the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, and vice chairman of a commission chaired by former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia on homeland security, and he served on the National Security Agency Advisory Board.

Clapper returned to the government two days after 9/11 as the first civilian director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. He served in this capacity for almost five years, transforming it into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, as it is called today.

Prior to becoming director of national intelligence, Clapper served for over three years in two administrations as undersecretary of defense for intelligence, where he was the principal staff assistant and adviser to the secretary and deputy secretary on intelligence, counterintelligence and security matters. He was also director of defense intelligence for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Clapper earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and an honorary doctorate in strategic intelligence from the then-Joint Military Intelligence College.

He has been honored with three National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award, three Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Awards, the presidentially conferred National Security Medal, and many other U.S. civilian and military, and foreign government awards and decorations.

###

About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures $570 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.

UMD Team Again Wins National Affordable Housing Design Competition

April 22, 2019
Contacts: 

Maria Day-Marshall  301-405-6795, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – For the second year in a row, a team of graduate students from the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation has won the Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). UMD teams finished first last year and second in 2016, their only two previous entries in the 6-year-old competition.

This year the University of Maryland team took first place and the $20,000 top prize with its design for Brooklyn Bend, a mixed-use housing and retail development for low- and moderate-income residents located along San Antonio’s Riverwalk. Results were announced Wednesday. Defending champion Maryland beat out more than 70 other teams, including the other three finalists, second place University of California, Berkeley, and runners-up Yale University and Virginia Tech.

Judges cited the team’s well-developed financial package and understanding of the concepts behind the proposal, and commended the project for having the highest population density among the four finalists. The design, which fronts the San Antonio River, emphasizes energy efficiency, water pollution control and promotion of healthy lifestyles.

Instead of a layout that included just one or two large buildings, the team designed a village-like development with a variety of housing unit designs and sizes to meet a wide range of needs, said Kyle Huck (dual master’s degree program in architecture and real estate development).

“All the proposals were unique in their own ways, but I think what set ours apart was that we really tried to use the site to its highest and best use,” he said, “and not just meet the requirements but to use the site as appropriately as possible to create a proposal that was more dense, which results in a greater amount of affordable housing.”

“We have a lot of dual degrees on our team,” said Cassandra Huntington (dual master’s degree program in architecture and real estate development). “The fact that we have the real estate development degree in addition to the architecture degree gives us a leg up on most of the competition, because we have a better understanding of both the design and the finance sides.”

In addition to graduate students Huck and Huntington, other members of the team are:  Lauren Stamm (master’s degree program in community planning); Andrew Mazer (master’s degree program in architecture); and Nyasha Mandima (master’s degree program in real estate development). The team’s advisors are Maria Day-Marshall, director of UMD’s Real Estate Development Program. and Rob McClennan, senior project manager, Bonstra | Haresign Architects, AIA, and UMD adjunct professor.

Donald Linebaugh, interim dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, said the Maryland team's design demonstrated the strengths of the school's interdisciplinary approach.

"Their winning submission was a thoughtful and nuanced response to a challenging site along San Antonio's Riverwalk," said Donald Linebaugh, interim dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. "They drew on their strengths in design, planning, and real estate finance to craft a project that put people and community first, activating the site and delivering a safe, affordable, and beautiful housing solution."

"With 12 dual degree programs in our School," explained Linebaugh, "MAPP+D is a national leader in interdisciplinary graduate education. And the students' innovative winning submission, clearly demonstrates the strengths of our interdisciplinary approach to the built environment."  

The San Antonio Housing Authority board, which is looking to redevelop the site, will review the winning proposal in coming months.

According to HUD, “the need for quality, affordable housing has never been greater,” and its affordable housing competition is intended to “advance the design and production of livable and sustainable housing for low- and moderate-income people through research and innovation.”

 

“When it comes to creating innovative affordable housing, HUD does not do this work alone,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “Congratulations to the University of Maryland and all of our finalists, for their consciousness stream of good ideas that increases housing opportunity for Americans with modest incomes.”

University of Maryland Statement Against Hate and Bias

November 5, 2017
Contacts: 

 Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

 
Statement Against Hate and Bias 
Joel Seligman, AVP for Communications and Marketing - November 5, 2017
 

UMD sincerely regrets the overwhelming misunderstanding resulting in the #UMDNotAHome social media conversation. The statements on social media connected to this hashtag do not reflect the positions of the university or our leaders' mutual commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus and across our nation.

To put it plainly, the UMD administration stands against hate and bias in all of its forms and wants every Terp to feel welcome, safe and at home at the University of Maryland. 

In recent months, there have been instances of intentional provocation by hateful, far-right groups spreading targeted messages that the administration finds despicable. These outside agitators want to divide our campus community into factions that are in conflict with one another from within UMD, rather than see our campus stand together in opposition to the broader forces of hate, white supremacy, anti-immigrant xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and anti-semitism. 

It is understandable that some members of our community are also disturbed by remarks by university officials, even when the comments are quoted entirely out of context and in a manner that misrepresents the meaning. UMD has seen an example of one of our longtime colleagues unfairly criticized for her efforts to provide legal advice to the University Senate Campus Affairs Committee literally at the same time she is working to advance the cause of inclusion.

The administration encourages all members of our community to work together—students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni—to increase respect, inclusiveness, and cohesiveness on our campus. A comprehensive list of efforts underway by UMD administration is available at umd.edu/umdreflects 

 

 

UMD Named a 2017 Best College by MONEY Magazine

July 12, 2017
Contacts: 

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  The University of Maryland ranked No. 11 among public universities according to MONEY Magazine’s 2017 list of Best Colleges. UMD ranked No. 20 overall among U.S. institutions. 

To calculate rankings, MONEY assessed more than 700 colleges in the U.S. based on three equally-weighted categories, including educational quality, affordability and alumni success. MONEY measured 27 factors within these categories covering areas such as instructor quality, measuring the study-to-faculty ratio, affordability for low-income students and value-added earnings, which measures if the school is launching students to better paying jobs. 

Earlier this year, UMD was also ranked a Best Value College by ForbesPrinceton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

UMD Capitol Hill Forum Addresses Health Disparities Research & Action for Equity

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Contacts: Elise Carbonaro, 301-405-6501

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, in collaboration with Rep. John P. Sarbanes and the Big Ten Academic Alliance, recently convened more than 100 people for a Research on the Hill forum focused on strategies to achieve health equity at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Moderated by Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., professor and director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity in the UMD School of Public Health, the panel discussion engaged experts from academia, federal health agencies and the private business sector in a candid conversation about how to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities among vulnerable populations.

“Our exploratory research holds the solutions to many of the most challenging problems of our day,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick G. O’Shea, Ph.D. “As a university, it is our mission to create and understand knowledge to develop better ways to house and heal and fuel and feed our people in advanced societies that are just, secure, and free. Achieving health equity touches on the ‘heal’ aspect of that mission.”

The topics ranged from the progress that has been made in access to medical care as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to challenges that still remain in improving quality of care and in making the medical care system incorporate public health and address the social determinants of health that prevent people from acting health promotion and disease prevention recommendations. 

“The state of Maryland has embraced the ACA and there is clear evidence that the new incentives are indeed moving hospital systems away from a fee-for-service business model to one that rewards quality care and positive health outcomes over the volume of procedures,” said Thomas. “While the transition is not perfect, our state is a national leader for what the future of health care will look like.”

Panel members shared examples of effective and innovative community-based health interventions and public-private partnerships that are making a difference through culturally-tailored health promotion and disease prevention services, and highlighted the emergence of social determinants of health such as poverty, discrimination and residential segregation as factors that must be overcome.

 “I’m convinced that if you address racial and ethnic disparities with respect to the delivery of health care and health care coverage in this country, you will build the best health care system we can possibly have because diversity is our country’s hallmark,” said Congressman Sarbanes, who, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been a tireless advocate for improving healthcare quality and addressing health disparities.
 
To achieve health equity, researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders must address broader issues beyond the traditional biomedical model and build trust between those who control health care delivery system and those who have lost hope in the system, said members of the panel. 

The panelists recommended that health equity be incorporated into all public policies, not just those related to health care, to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. 

Panel members included:

  • Margo Edmunds, Ph.D., Vice President, Evidence Generation and Translation at Academy Health;
  • J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., M.S.C.E., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Julia Huggins, President of Cigna Mid-Atlantic;
  • Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., MPH, Professor of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research and Inaugural Endowed Chair for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota; and
  • Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District and is a distinguished UMD alumnus, also joined the event and emphasized that as an interconnected community, we should all care about health disparities.
 
“It is unacceptable that in the United States, where all are created equal in the words of our Declaration of Independence, that one’s access to healthcare may be higher or lower as a result of race, gender, or income,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Everybody being healthy is of concern to each and every one of us.”
 
He discussed how we must continue to defend the patient protections that Americans are benefiting from thanks to the ACA, such as the no-cost access to preventive services like mammograms and immunizations, as well as remind people of the dramatic increase in the number of people, particularly people of color, who now have health coverage as a result.

The event was held as part of the University of Maryland’s Research on the Hill series, which is aimed at raising awareness of research with great societal significance.

View the conversation at: https://youtu.be/HPedKr0jZLQ

UMD Study Finds Connecting Uninsured Patients to Primary Care Could Reduce ER Use

May 6, 2015
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
Hillery Tsumba 301-628-3425

Montgomery County, Md. Initiative Could Improve Health, Reduce Costs

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An intervention to connect low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to a reliable source of primary health care shows promise for reducing avoidable use of hospital emergency departments in Maryland. A University of Maryland School of Public Health study evaluating the results of the intervention was published this week in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs

For twenty years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing health care outside of hospitals, including not having an identifiable primary health care provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered “avoidable.” The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics. 

“Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues – such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety – relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care,” says Dr. Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. “Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations.”  

Funded by a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the initiative engaged all five of the hospitals operating in Montgomery County, Maryland at the time, and four safety-net clinics serving low-income patients. Using “patient navigators,” individuals trained to help patients find the care they need and can afford, these hospitals referred more than 10,000 low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients who visited emergency departments to four local primary care clinics, with the goal of encouraging them to establish an ongoing relationship with the clinic and reduce their reliance on costly emergency department care. 

Two hospitals in Montgomery County who participated in the intervention continued the program after the initial grant period concluded because of the benefits they saw for patients and for reducing emergency department visits and associated costs. These hospitals are currently testing a new version of the intervention specifically deigned to link emergency department patients with behavioral health conditions to appropriate community-based services. 

While hospital administrators and health policy experts throughout the country are recognizing that access to primary care improves continuity of care for patients and reduces avoidable use of emergency departments, the implications of this project are particularly important for hospitals in Maryland, which are now operating under a unique all-payer model for hospital payments. Within this new payment structure, Maryland hospitals will have to meet ambitious spending, quality of care, and population health goals. Reducing avoidable use of emergency departments can help in reaching these goals.

The project provides promise not only for hospitals in Maryland but throughout the nation to improve health care experiences and outcomes for their patients. Shared learning systems were an integral component of the project so participants were learning from each other and sharing best practices throughout the project and that learning has now been documented and can be replicated in other communities.

“This was an incredibly rewarding project to work on,” says Barbara H. Eldridge, Manager of Quality Improvement at the Primary Care Coalition. “We created a learning system that permits us to sustain improved communication between patients and their providers, between hospital discharge planners and community based clinics, and across five hospitals operating in Montgomery County.” The initiative has proven successful in Montgomery County, Maryland and is being replicated in communities in other parts of the country. 

“Linking Uninsured Patients Treated In The Emergency Department To Primary Care Shows Some Promise In Maryland” was written by Theresa Y. Kim, Karoline Mortensen, and Barbara Eldridge and published in the journal Health Affairs

University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618 crystalb@umd.edu

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website, umdrightnow.umd.edu, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit umdrightnow.umd.edu.

UMD Researchers Receive $1M Spencer Award to Investigate Disparities in Resources for Children and Long-term Achievement Gaps

December 5, 2019
Contacts: 

Audrey Hill audreyh@umd.edu 301-405-3468

University of Maryland researchers, supported by a $1M award from the Spencer Foundation, will investigate inequality in investments in children from different backgrounds, and develop recommendations for interventions that best improve life outcomes for underserved youth.
 
Led by University of Maryland College of Education Assistant Professor David Blazar, who also directs the Maryland Equity Project, the research will help policymakers determine the most “bang for the buck” when making decisions about investing resources in children’s lives. The study will examine resources invested in children not only in education, but also in other sectors including health.
 
“There are longstanding lines of research that demonstrate inequality in educational outcomes between rich and poor kids and between students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, but also unequal access to resources like high-quality teachers and health care,” said Dr. Blazar. However, he says that much less is known about how differential access to resources compounds across sectors. 
 
“As education researchers, we know that we spend more on White kids versus Black kids, in part because White students attend better-resourced schools with more experienced teachers, access to after-school programs, and other resources. However, educational activities also occur outside of the home, in families and communities, where it is more difficult to quantify differences in access to resources. Education researchers infrequently look outside of these settings to also consider how underserved students may also be underserved in access to health care. We want to monetize these differences – to identify the dollar amount – in order to shed led on the extent of these disparities and make them understandable for policy audiences.”

The project also will synthesize information from the existing evidence base on which resources are most likely to mitigate the disparities identified.
 
The research team – which also includes Associate Professor Claudia Galindo, Professor Steven Klees, Dean and Professor Jennifer King Rice, and Associate Professor Marvin Titus from the College of Education, as well as Assistant Professor Michel Boudreaux from the School of Public Health – will first use national survey data to identify in which sectors (i.e. education, health, family, community) and time periods (i.e. early childhood, K-12, postsecondary) disparities in investments in children from different backgrounds are largest. 

The purpose of this part of the project is to bridge connections between research sectors (e.g., education, health) that traditionally have worked in silos. 

“While disparities in access to resources and high-leverage points for interventions have been identified previously, this research has tended to happen in disciplinary silos,” said Dr. Blazar. “By separating unequal investments in education and health, we are likely to underestimate disparities. Kids that have less access to education, often have less access to health care, which makes gathering information across sectors critical to understanding and addressing inequalities for youth.”

“Researchers have been talking about inequitable educational outcomes and resources in units that make a lot of sense to academics but not necessarily to others. By putting those disparities in a dollar scale, they may by more understandable to a public audience and can bring attention to the degree of disparities between groups of children,” Dr. Blazar added.

To do so, the research team will use tools to estimate the dollar amount that goes into each investment area (e.g., number of hours students spend in school, access to high-quality teachers and after-school activities, access to health care) captured by the national surveys.

Next, the team will conduct meta-analyses of causal studies to determine the effect of human capital interventions on outcomes for children. The team will combine these findings on impacts on investment disparities in order to develop a guide for policymakers on the most effective and efficient use of additional resources to address inequalities. 
 
The cross-sector research on inequality is designed to provide practical information to policymakers so that they can identify the most effective and efficient areas for investment, whether that is addressing disparities in early childhood education or K-12 settings or through community health outreach. 

####

 

UMD Astronomers Catch Natural Comet Outburst in Unprecedented Detail

December 3, 2019
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland astronomers have made the most complete and detailed observations to date of the formation and dissipation of a naturally occurring comet outburst. Using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the researchers gained a clear start-to-finish image sequence of an explosive emission of dust, ice and gases during the close approach to Earth of comet 46P/Wirtanen in late 2018. The team members reported their results in the November 22, 2019 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“TESS spends nearly a month at a time imaging one portion of the sky. With no day or night breaks and no atmospheric interference, we have a very uniform, long-duration set of observations,” said Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the UMD Department of Astronomy and the lead author of the research paper. “As comets orbit the sun, they can pass through TESS’ field of view. Wirtanen was a high priority for us because of its close approach in late 2018, so we decided to use its appearance in the TESS images as a test case to see what we could get out of it. We did so and were very surprised!”

According to Farnham, the TESS observations of comet Wirtanen were the first to capture all phases of a natural comet outburst, from beginning to end. He noted that three other previous observations came close to recording the beginning of an outburst event. Observations of a 2007 outburst from comet 17P/Holmes began late, missing several hours of the initial brightening phase of the event. In 2017, observations of an outburst from comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 (SW1) concluded early, due to limitations on pre-scheduled observation time. 

And, while observations from the UMD-led Deep Impact mission captured an outburst from comet Tempel 1 in unprecedented detail in 2005, the outburst was not natural—created instead by the mission’s impactor module. However, the current observations are the first to capture the dissipation phase in its entirety, Farnham said.

Although Wirtanen came closest to Earth on December 16, 2018, the outburst occurred earlier in its approach, beginning on September 26, 2018. The initial brightening of the outburst occurred in two distinct phases, with an hour-long flash followed by a more gradual second stage that continued to grow brighter for another 8 hours. This second stage was likely caused by the gradual spreading of comet dust from the outburst, which causes the dust cloud to reflect more sunlight overall. After reaching peak brightness, the comet faded gradually over a period of more than two weeks. Because TESS takes detailed, composite images every 30 minutes, the team was able to view each phase in exquisite detail.

“With 20 days’ worth of very frequent images, we were able to assess changes in brightness very easily. That’s what TESS was designed for, to perform its primary job as an exoplanet surveyor,” Farnham said. “We can’t predict when comet outbursts will happen. But even if we somehow had the opportunity to schedule these observations, we couldn’t have done any better in terms of timing. The outburst happened mere days after the observations started.”

Artist's rendering of NASA’s TESS spacecraftFarnham and his colleagues are also the first to observe Wirtanen’s dust trail. Unlike a comet’s tail—the spray of gas and fine dust that follows behind a comet, growing as it approaches the sun—a comet’s trail is a field of larger debris that traces the comet’s orbital path as it travels around the sun. Unlike a tail, which changes direction as it is blown by the solar wind, the orientation of the trail stays more or less constant over time.

“The trail more closely follows the orbit of the comet, while the tail is more offset from it, as it gets pushed around by the sun’s radiation pressure. What’s significant about the trail is that it contains the largest material,” said Michael Kelley, an associate research scientist in the UMD Department of Astronomy and a co-author of the research paper. “Tail dust is very fine, a lot like smoke. But trail dust is much larger—more like sand and pebbles. We think comets lose most of their mass through their dust trails. When the Earth runs into a comet’s dust trail, we get meteor showers.”

While the current study describes initial results, Farnham, Kelley and their colleagues look forward to further analyses of Wirtanen, as well as other comets in TESS’ field of view. The team has generated a rough estimate of how much material may have been ejected in the outburst (about 2.2 million pounds, which could have left a crater close to 65 feet across), but further analysis of the estimated particle sizes in the dust tail may help improve this estimate. Observing more comets will also help to determine whether multi-stage brightening is rare or commonplace in comet outbursts.

“We also don’t know what causes natural outbursts and that’s ultimately what we want to find,” Farnham said. “There are at least four other comets in the same area of the sky where TESS made these observations, with a total of about 50 comets expected in the first two years’ worth of TESS data. There’s a lot that can come of these data. We’re still finding out the capabilities of TESS, so hopefully we’ll have more to report on this comet and others very soon.”

In addition to Farnham and Kelley, UMD-affiliated co-authors of the research paper include Astronomy Associate Research Scientists Lori Feaga and Matthew Knight.

 

The research paper, “First Results from TESS Observations of Comet 46P/Wirtanen,” Tony Farnham, Michael Kelley, Matthew Knight and Lori Feaga, was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on November 22, 2019.

 

Pages

December 3
Data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite reveal start-to-finish sequence of an outburst from comet 46P/... Read