Yale Physicist Honored for Her Study of Fast Radio Bursts From Distant Galaxies

Yale physicist Laura Newburgh is participating on the research team of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME). The CHIME project is co-led by the University of British Columbia, McGill University, and the University of Toronto. It is hosted at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Kaleden, British Columbia, by the National Research Council of Canada, with collaborating institutions across North America.

The research group is the winner of the 2022 Lancelot M. Berkeley – New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy. The American Astronomical Society has presented the Berkeley Prize since 2011.

The research group was honored for breakthroughs in the understanding of a mysterious phenomenon known as fast radio bursts. Though FRBs were first discovered in 2007, until recently, only about 140 of them had been found. During the past year, CHIME has presented detections that more than quadruple that number. Researchers believe the high-intensity nature of FRBs indicates they are connected to highly energetic astrophysical events in their galaxy of origin, such as neutron stars or black holes.

“CHIME has provided us with a new view of the sky,” said Dr. Newburgh, an assistant professor of physics. “It was designed to map the entire sky every day for a variety of science goals. This revolutionized our ability to study transient events, in particular fast radio bursts. As someone who has spent nearly a decade working on the experiment, this is a wonderful appreciation of that work. It is also a hopeful note for the future since we haven’t even scratched the surface of what the CHIME data is capable of.”

Dr. Newburgh joined the physics faculty at Yale in 2017. She is a graduate of Barnard College in New York City and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in physics from Columbia University.

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