Ata Sarajedini’s research with the Hubble Space Telescope may lead to a better understanding about the formation of the Milky Way and the age of the universe

(Above)
Ata Sarajedini’s research with the Hubble Space
Telescope may lead to a better understanding
about the formation of the Milky Way and the age
of the universe.

Shooting for the Stars

Grants

Article Originally published in the June 2006 issue of CLASnotes.

The Hubble Space Telescope, one of the most important instruments mankind has created for observing the universe, is expected to continue functioning for only a few more years. Associate Professor of Astronomy Ata Sarajedini is one of a handful of scientists charged with making the most of Hubble’s remaining life.

As principal investigator on a $550,000 grant from the Hubble Space Telescope Treasury Program, Sarajedini is using the telescope to take images of star clusters and create an archive of observational data and digital images to be used by astronomers for decades to come.

“Access to this telescope is fiercely competitive and only about ten percent of proposals are successful,” says astronomy department chair Stanley Dermott. “Ata has an international reputation for his research on the origin and evolution of galaxies and the distance scale of the universe. This new project will be a major resource for future astronomers.”

Along with a ten-member team of international scientists, Sarajedini is using the telescope to capture images of 66 globular clusters within our galaxy. The instrument has already sent back images of half of the clusters and is expected to complete the remainder by the end of summer.

“The stars in these clusters are thought to be the oldest in the Milky Way,” says Sarajedini. “By studying them we hope to learn about the formation chronology of our own galaxy and the age of the universe. The orbits of these clusters allow us to measure the mass of our galaxy, akin to placing the Milky Way on a huge balance scale.”

Sarajedini first became interested in star clusters as an undergraduate majoring in astronomy and physics at Yale University. After graduating with his BS in 1986, he decided to stay on at Yale for graduate school to work with faculty members on the topic. After completing two postdoctoral appointments, first as a Kitt Peak National Observatory Fellow and then a Hubble Fellow, Sarajedini served two years as an assistant professor at Wesleyan University before coming to UF in 2001.

Shortly after arriving at UF, Sarajedini was awarded a $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) grant from the National Science Foundation. He is one of seven astronomy faculty members to earn the award in the past seven years, including his wife and fellow associate professor Vicki Sarajedini.

“No other astronomy department in the US has achieved this, as far as I have heard,” says Dermott. “Since only the top 10 percent of young tenure-track faculty in the United States get CAREER awards, we can safely say that we are hiring some of the best new faculty in the nation.”

In addition to his booming research career, Sarajedini also provides guidance to young astronomers, serving as the department’s graduate coordinator and advisor. He is president of the Star Clusters Commission within the International Astronomical Union and a member of the American Astronomical Society. All of this is a dream come true for the man who decided to become an astronomer his sophomore year of high school. “I loved it as a hobby and knew if I could do something for a career that I already enjoyed, that would be the perfect profession.”

Visit www.astro.ufl.edu/~ata to learn more about Sarajedini’s research or to view his Hubble images.

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OLIVER SMITH A R

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UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY

$3,410

THE IMPACT OF HURRICAN KATRINA AND THE EXTENT OF POPULATION DISPLACEMENT ON HISPANIC COMMUNITIES IN LOUISIANA

GE J

AST

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

$20,169

DEVELOPMENT OF BINARY SILICON FREE STANDING IMAGE MASKS FOR TPF-C

SOLTIS D E; SOLTIS P S

BOT

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$136,757

COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: PATTERNS & MECHANISMS OF GENE EXPRESSION IN RECENT ALLOTETRAPLOIDS OF RECURRENT ORIGIN

BARTLETT R J

CHE

U S AIR FORCE

$203,471

METASTABLE MOLECULES IN THE GROUND AN IN EXCITED STATES: THEORY DEVELOPMENT, IMPLEMENTATION AND APPLICATION

KATRITZKY A R

CHE

L'OREAL

$22,316

LOREAL RESEARCH AGREEMENT

RICHARDSON D E; POWELL D H

CHE

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$339,764

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SCHANZE K S

CHE

U S AIR FORCE AFOSR

$13,127

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YOST R A

CHE

ION METRICS INC U S DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

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CSD

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GEOG

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GEOL

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

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MAT

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MAT

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PHY

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TAN W

CHE

LIFE SCIENCES INC NATL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH

$19,691

HANDHELD GENE ANALYZER BASED ON DYE-DOPED NANOLPARTICLES

WINEFORDNER J D

CHE

U S DEPT OF ENERGY CHICAGO OPERATIONS OFFICE

$164,089

ATOMIC EMISSION, ABSORPTION AND FLUORESCENCE IN THE LASER INDUCED PLASMA - SUPPLEMENTAL REQUEST

SERRA R

CAS

U S DEPT OF EDUCATION

$3,000

FLORIDA NETWORK FOR GLOBAL STUDIES TITLE VI NATIONAL RESOURCCENTER PROPOSAL

VILLALON L A

CAS

U S DEPT OF EDUCATION

$302,500

FOREIGN LANGUAGE & AREA STUDIES FELLOWSHIPS - AFRICA

GOLDMAN A C; SOUTHWORTH J

GEOG

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$14,760

COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: CONSEQUENCES OF PARKS FOR LAND USE, LIVELIHOOD DIVERSIFICATION, AND BIODIVERSITY IN EAST AFRICA

DRANISHNIKOV A N

MAT

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$134,548

LARGE SCALE TOPOLOGY OF METRIC SPACES

MITSELMAKHER G; TANNER D B

PHY

CALIFORNIA INST OF TECHNOLOGY NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$192,239

PROPOSAL TO THE LIGO LABORATORY FOR FUNDING TO BUILD DEDICATED LASTI ACTIVE INPUT OPTIC ELEMENTS

MITSELMAKHER G; TANNER D B

PHY

CALIFORNIA INST OF TECHNOLOGY NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$72,745

PROPOSAL TO THE LIGO LABORATORY FOR FUNDING TO BUILD DEDICATED LASTI ACTIVE INPUT OPTIC ELEMENTS

MULLER G

PHY

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

$52,522

DIMENSIONAL STABILITY OF MATERIALS AND BONDS FOR INTERFEROMETRIC SPACE MISSIONS

SULLIVAN N S

PHY

FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY NAT HIGH MAGNETIC FIELD LAB NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$335,063

THE NATIONAL HIGH MAGNETIC FIELD LABORATORY

ANDERSON L E

POL

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$155,870

PUBLIC OPINION, VOTING ANALYSIS AND THE CRISIS OF DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NICARAGUA: THE 2006 ELECTION

DEVINE D P

PSY

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$118,986

STREE-MODULATING ACTIONS OF ORPHANIN FQ (N/OFQ)

ROWLAND N E

PSY

NATL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH NIAAA - ALCOHOL ABUSE & ALC

$47,688

TIME RESOLUTION OF ETHANOL-INDUCED NEUROTRANSMISSION

LORD G E

RLL

U S DEPT OF EDUCATION

$3,000

FLORIDA NETWORK FOR GLOBAL STUDIES TITLE VI NATIONAL RESOURCCENTER PROPOSAL

CASELLA G

STA

UNIV OF CALIFORNIA DAVIS NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$161,124

ASSOCIATION GENETICS OF NATURAL GENETIC VARIATION AND COMPLEX TRAITS IN LOBLOLLY

BJORNDAL K A; BOLTEN A B

ZOO

U F FOUNDATION

$25,000

SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION

GUILLETTE JR L J

ZOO

BECKMAN FOUNDATION, A & M

$6,000

THE BECHMAN SCHOLARS PROGRAM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

JULIAN D

ZOO

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$139,298

A SECOND LOOK AT SULFIDE TOXICITY: INTRACELLULAR INCLUSIONS MITOCHONDRIAL DAMAGE AND CELL DEATH IN SULFIDE ADAPTED ..

PHELPS S M

ZOO

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

$256,914

THE INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY OF VOCAL COMMUNICATION

Credits

Writer

Buffy Lockette

Photos

Jane Dominguez

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