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Northwestern University

Giles Novak

Image Source: BLAST Collaboration

Far-IR/Submillimeter Instrument Development, Studies of Star/Planet Formation and the Interstellar Medium

Giles Novak's CV


Summary of Research
Professor Novak works in observational astrophysics and astronomical instrumentation. His research group is currently contributing to three instrumentation projects: called HAWC+, BLAST-TNG, and TolTEC. All three are aimed at key questions in star formation research: What sets the rate at which new stars and planets are born? What factors determine the masses of stars and the architectures of the associated planet-forming disks?

Projects and Collaborators

In collaboration with scientists at various universities and NASA centers, Novak’s group developed an infrared camera/polarimeter called HAWC+ for use aboard the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). HAWC+ began SOFIA flights in 2016, and is the only currently operating astronomical camera that makes images using far-infrared light. HAWC+ is uniquely sensitive to dense gas at a wide range of temperatures, allowing studies of multiple stages of star/planet formation. At Northwestern, Marc Berthoud and Fabio Santos work on HAWC+.
HAWC+ Fact Sheet | HAWC+ Abstract

The Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Submillimeter Telescope - The Next Generation (BLAST-TNG) is a 5,000 pound balloon-borne telescope bound for the stratosphere over Antarctica, aimed at mapping large-scale magnetic fields over dozens of star forming molecular clouds. The degree of disorder in these maps will provide a new diagnostic of the magnetic field strength in these stellar nurseries, a key unknown in star formation research.

TolTEC is a powerful new millimeter-wavelength camera for the 50-meter Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), which sits atop the 15,000-foot Sierra Negra, an extinct volcano in central Mexico. At Northwestern, Marc Berthoud and John Bussan are working with Novak to build the rapid-spinning half-wave plate polarization modulator for TolTEC. With Laura Fissel of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Novak is coordinating a survey that aims to understand the role that molecular cloud filaments play in the process of star/planet formation.
TolTEC Web Site

Research Highlight (in-depth article)