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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 properties of the associated planet-forming disks?

Projects and Collaborators


We installed an infrared camera/polarimeter called the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-Plus (HAWC+) on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) in 2016. This is the only currently operating astronomical camera that makes images using far-infrared light, allowing studies of low-temperature early stages of star and planet formation.

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 new millimeter-wavelength camera that takes advantage of the astounding properties of the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT). TolTEC utilizes the latest technologies developed for studying the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background by bringing them to bear on studies of objects that span all spatial scales across the Universe. With Dr. Laura Fissel of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Novak is coordinating a survey that aims to understand the regulation of star formation by filamentary structures in molecular clouds.

TolTEC Web Site

Research Highlight (in-depth article)