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Northwestern University

Mel Ulmer

Image Source: NAOJ

Adaptive X-Ray Optics (made with Magnetic Smart Materials), Near Infrared Cameras, and Deployable Optics for Space-Based Telescopes

Mel Ulmer's Web Site

Prof. Ulmer's arXiv Search Results

Prof. Ulmer's ADS Search Results


Summary of Research
Dr. Ulmer divides his time between instrumentation development and astrophysical studies. Currently much of his focus is on two projects: APERTURE, a NASA Innovative Advanced Concept project for large space telescopes; and developing a high-speed Near Infrared camera with funding from the W.M. Keck Foundation to image Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zone of their host planets.

Projects and Collaborators

Novel Near-Infrared Camera System for Breakthroughs in Astrophysics and Beyond

Developing a new high-sensitivity near-infrared camera for use in adaptive optics systems on telescopes, to help directly image planets around other stars.
  • Hooman Mohseni, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS)
  • Olivier Guyon, NAOJ
  • Katie Barnhart, dual major Physics & Astronomy (P&A) and Chemistry
  • Min-Su Park, Keck Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Cobi Rabinowitz, Keck Foundation graduate student, P&A
  • Mohsen Razheni, EECS
  • Chee Leong Tang, Keck Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Skyler Wheaton, EECS
Aperture: A Precise Extremely large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements

Designing a new deployable and self-correcting mirror system that enables orbiting telescopes to be much bigger than the limits enforced by current rockets.
  • Victoria Coverstone, Texas Tech University
  • Kyle Condron, BA in Physics and Mechanical Engineering
  • Matt Johnson, Electrical Engineering
  • Ally O’Donnell, Mechanical Engineering, Physics minor
  • Shi Claire Ye, Physics & Astronomy
NASA Illinois Space Grant: Undergraduate Research Fellowships and Summer Research Projects

Hosting undergraduate summer students in summer research programs, with a special emphasis on helping female and minority students.
  • William Kauffman, Materials Research Center
X-ray Optics for Astronomy and Synchrotrons

Developing lower-cost X-ray reflecting optics by building them with “magnetic smart materials”: materials that respond to a magnetic field, changing their shape to improve image quality.
  • Jian Cao, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Yip-Wah Chung, Department of Materials Science
  • Semyon Vaynman, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Dark energy American French Team/French American Dark energy (DAFT/FADA)

Observing clusters of galaxies with an emphasis on X-ray emission, weak lensing, strong lensing, star formation in galaxies, and search for high-z galaxies.
  • Christophe Adami, Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille
  • Florence Durret, Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris
  • Gastao Lima Neto, Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas
  • Tatiana Lagana, Universidade Cruzeiro do Sul
Tidal Disruption Events and X-ray Sky Variability in the Direction of Clusters and Galaxies

Searching for tidal disruption of stars through X-ray variability studies of galaxy clusters.
  • W. Peter Maksym, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
(This image from:

Research Highlight (in-depth article)