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High Energy Astrophysics Division

The AAS High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) assists and promotes the advancement of research and the dissemination of knowledge about high energy events, particles, quanta, relativistic gravitational fields, and related phenomena in the astrophysical universe. HEAD also promotes the coordination of this research and knowledge with other branches of science. The division holds Division Meetings every 18 months, as well as sessions within the meetings of the American Astronomical Society. Each year, HEAD awards the Rossi Prize for recent original research in High Energy Astrophysics. At each Division Meeting, HEAD announces the Schramm Award for High Energy Astrophysics Science Journalism, the Mid-Career Prize, and the Dissertation Prize. The electronic HEAD Newsletter is published twice yearly. HEAD membership information is managed within the AAS database at AAS Member Directory.

50th Anniversary of the High Energy Astrophysics Division

2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the High Energy Astrophysics Division.  We are soliciting HEAD members and others to submit stories, photos, important events, etc.  of the HEAD during the past 50 years. If you have something to contribute, please send it to the HEAD secretary (

Upcoming Meeting:

The 18th Divisional meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division will take place 13-17 September 2020 in Tucson, AZ at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa.


  • The Space Telescope Science Institute, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, the Johns Hopkins University, European Southern Observatory, and Associated Universities, Inc. are organizing a Memorial Symposium to celebrate the life and work of Riccardo Giacconi. The Symposium will cover the various phases of Riccardo’s career and achievements. It will be held in Washington, DC at the National Academy of Sciences (2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W.) on 29-30 May 2019.
  • The 17th Divisional meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division took place on 17-21 March 2019  at the Portola Hotel in Monterey, CA. See what people were tweeting about via our official #HEAD2019 hashtag.  Thanks to all the attendees who help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the HEAD, along with the celebrations of XMM-Newton, Chandra and Fermi, and who presented excellent science results.
  • The HEAD Bylaws have been revised. We'll be discussing the changes in the revised bylaws at the Business Meeting at the Monterey meeting, and members will then have the opportunity to vote to approve adoption.  
  • The HEAD 2018 election is now closed.  Frits Paerels has been elected as HEAD Treasurer, Mike Corcoran will continue as HEAD Secretary, and Erin Kara and Alexander van der Horst have been elected as members of the Executive Committee.  Congratulations to Frits, Erin, and Alexander, thanks to all who were willing to be nominated, and thanks to Keith Arnaud, outgoing treasurer, and Niel Brandt and Laura Lopez for their service to the Division. 
  • We're happy to announce that Josh Sokol has won the 2019 HEAD David Schramm Award for Science Journalism for his article, "Star-Swallowing Black Holes Reveal Secrets in Exotic Light Show" which appeared in Quantum Magazine.  Josh will be giving the public talk at the 17th Divisional Meeting in Monterey. Please see the press release for details. 
  • We're happy to announce the winners of the  HEAD Science prizes for 2019.  Brian Metzger and Dan Kasen have been awarded the Bruno Rossi Prize,  Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz has been awarded the Mid-Career Prize, and Jennifer Barnes has been awarded the Dissertation prize.  Please see the press release for details, and our congratulations to Brian and Dan, Enrico and Jennifer.
  • We are saddened to report the passing of Dr. Riccardo Giacconi on Sunday 9 December 2018 at the age of 87. Riccardo's career as one of the founders of X-ray astronomy is well known and appreciated by all our community.  As noted by Ethan Schreier and Harvey Tananbaum in their memorial, "a very large segment of the astronomy and astrophysics community have based their research on facilities which were conceived, built, and/or directed by Riccardo." Tributes to Riccardo's contributions to science have appeared in the New York Times, the London Telegraph, and other papers the world over.
  • On July 12, 2018, IceCube, together with partner telescopes and observatories on Earth and in space, announced the identification of blazar TXS 0506+056 as the first likely source of high-energy neutrinos and cosmic rays.
  • NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) reentered Earth's atmosphere on April 30, 2018 at about 14:45 UTC (10:45am EDT). RXTE was launched on December 30, 1995 and had an extraordinarily productive run of scientific time-domain discovery until it was decommissioned in January 2012.
  • We are saddened to report the passing of Dr. Yasuo Tanaka on January 18, 2018.  Dr. Tanaka was a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy, and led the development and operation of important X-ray satellite observatories like GINGA, TENMA and ASCA. Dr. Tanaka was a member of the Japan Academy. Among many awards, Dr. Tanaka received the 2001 Bruno Rossi Prize with Dr. Andrew Fabian for their discovery of relativistically broadened iron lines in ASCA X-ray spectra of active galactic nuclei, and he was also awarded the James Craig Watson Medal by the National Academy of Sciences in 1994 for "his leadership in X-ray astronomy since its beginning, and his crucial role in enabling the U.S./Japanese collaboration in the ASCA mission, a beautiful example of international cooperation in sciences."
  • We are pleased to announce that the 2018 Bruno Rossi Prize has been awarded to Dr.Colleen Wilson-Hodge and the Fermi GBM Team, "for the discovery of Gamma-rays coincident with a neutron-star merger gravitational wave event. This confirmed that short gamma-ray bursts are produced by binary neutron-star mergers and enabled a global multi-wavelength follow-up campaign." Please see the HEAD Press Release for additional information.
  • Upcoming HEA Meetings
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Have a picture relevant to high-energy astrophysics you'd like to see on the HEAD page? Contact the webmaster to submit with an image and short description.