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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 (  Also, please see Virginia Trimble's retrospective on the history of the HEAD (and High Energy Astrophysics in general) over the last 50 years, originally presented at the 17th Divisional Meeting in Monterey, and Christine Jones's remembrances of Riccardo Giacconi from that same meeting

Upcoming Meeting:

The Nineteenth Divisional Meeting of the HEAD will be held from March 13-17, 2022, at the William Penn Omni, Pittsburgh, PA.  The William Penn Omni is a grand historic hotel first opened in 1916 and a Pittsburgh landmark.  

HEAD Frontier Seminar Series:

Next Seminar: The HEAD Virtual Seminar Series for 2020 has concluded.  Our thanks to all presenters. In 2021, the series was renamed as the Frontier Seminar Series. Videos of the presentations are available on the HEAD Frontier Seminar Series pages.  We will resume the Frontier Seminar Series in April, 2021.

The Frontier Seminars are held via Zoom.  Zoom Connection details will be sent to all HEAD members when the talks are scheduled. Contact the HEAD Secretary if you're a non-HEAD member and you'd like the Zoom meeting information.

Signup at the  HEAD Frontier Seminar signup page to propose a future talk. Talks may be proposed at any time, and will remain in consideration for future seminars unless retracted by the speaker. Talks to be considered for the next seminar must be received by the first of the month.  


  • The 18th Divisional Meeting has been Cancelled. The 18th Divisional meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division was scheduled to be held at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa.  However, due to the corona virus pandemic, this meeting was cancelled.  The HEAD Executive Committee considered holding the 18th meeting as a meeting-in-a-meeting at the 238th AAS meeting in June 2021 in Anchorage.  However, since the decision was made that the 238th meeting will be held online (because of the CoVID pandemic), the HEAD Executive Committee has decided not to participate in the virtual meeting.  Thus we made the decision to cancel the 18th Divisional meeting.  The next HEAD meeting is the 19th Divisional Meeting to be held (we hope) as an in-person meeting in Pittsburgh, in March 2022.
  • The HEAD Executive Committee is pleased to announce the following HEAD Award winners:  The 2021 Bruno Rossi Prize has been awarded to Francis Halzen and the IceCube Collaboration "for the discovery of a high-energy neutrino flux of astrophysical origin".  The 2021 Mid-Career Prize has been awarded to Anna Watts, "for her trailblazing work in the understanding of neutron star fluid dynamics, and developing and applying rigorous inference to obtain observational constraints on dense matter". The 2021 HEAD Dissertation Prize was awarded to Renee Ludlam for her dissertation entitled "A Hard Look at Accretion Around Neutron Stars". Her work showed how accretion disk reflection can be used to place limits on neutron star radii (and therefore the equation of state). The inaugural HEAD Innovation Prize was awarded to Dr. Richard Kelley "for his unflagging effort to make the transformational capabilities of the X-ray microcalorimeter available to the high energy astrophysics community". Congratulations to all the award winners. Please see the HEAD press release for more information.
  • We’d like to announce the results of the 2020 HEAD election. Tom Maccarone and Terri Brandt will join the Executive Committee (starting at the end of Business Meeting on Jan 12), replacing Gabriela  Gonzalez and Laura Brenneman.  We thank Gaby and Laura for their dedication and service to the Division, congratulate Terri and Tom, and would especially like to thank Eric Bellm, Laura Blecha, Francesca Civano, Javier Garcia and Anne Lohfink for their willingness to serve the community
  • We have selected 3 finalists for the HEAD Dissertation Prize: Dr. Adi Foord for her thesis "Discovering the Missing Population of AGN Pairs with Chandra"; Dr. Renee Ludlam for her thesis "A Hard Look at Accretion Around Neutron Stars"; and Dr. Guang Yang for his thesis "What Drives the Growth of Black Holes?".  Dr. Yang, Dr. Foord and Dr. Ludlam will give presentations at the HEAD I session at the 237th Meeting of the AAS on January 11, after which a prize winner will be chosen.  
  • Because the 18th Divisional meeting has been delayed to June 2021, the HEAD EC has decided to extend the nomination deadline for the HEAD Dissertation Prize, the HEAD Mid-Career Prize and the HEAD Innovation Prize to August 31, 2020.
  • A Special Statement from the HEAD Executive Committee to support Black Americans. Please also see the call from AAS President, Megan Donahue in support of Black Americans. Please also see the statement from the Division of Planetary Science.
  • The 2020 David N. Schramm Award for high-energy astrophysics science journalism has been awarded to Steve Nadis for his article entitled His article, "Ripple Effect," which appeared in the May 2019 issue of Discover Magazine.  The award was announced via a press release issued on May 13, 2020.
  • Dr. Roger Blandford has won the 2020 Shaw Prize in Astronomy, for his foundational contributions to theoretical astrophysics, especially concerning the fundamental understanding of active galactic nuclei, the formation and collimation of relativistic jets, the energy extraction mechanism from black holes, and the acceleration of particles in shocks and their relevant radiation mechanisms
  • Dr. Andrew Fabian has won the 2020 Kavli Prize for Astrophysics, for his pioneering research and persistence in pursuing the mystery of how black holes influence their surrounding galaxies on both large and small scales.
  • The deadline for nominations to the Dissertation, Mid-Career and Innovation prizes has been extended to June 1, 2020.
  • On March 16, 2020, NASA selected for further study the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI)  and The Extreme-ultraviolet Stellar Characterization for Atmospheric Physics and Evolution (ESCAPE) Small Explorer mission proposals, along with the Gravitational-wave Ultraviolet Counterpart Imager and the LargE Area burst Polarimeter (LEAP) Mission of Opportunity proposals.  Two of the proposed missions will be downselected in 2021, with launch anticipated in 2025.  See the NASA press release for further details.
  • The 2020 Bruno Rossi Prize has been awarded to Sheperd Doeleman and the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Team for "their landmark image and analysis of the first shadow of a black hole. Please see the HEAD Press Release for more information
  • The 2020 winter meeting of the AAS, AAS 235, begins on January 4, 2020.  A schedule of meeting talks and events of interest to HEAD members is available on the HEAD AAS 235 meeting page.
  • Upcoming HEA Meetings
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