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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 marked 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 Twenty-First Divisional Meeting of the HEAD will be held 2024 April 7-12, Horsehoe Bay Resort, Texas.  Horseshoe Bay is near the  center of totality for the total solar eclipse which occurs Monday April 8 from 12:16pm to 2:57pm CDT (totality from 1:34pm to 1:38pm). Please save the date, and more information about the meeting will be available late summer, 2023.

HEAD Executive Committee Election, 2023

The HEAD will be voting for Vice Chair and for two Executive Committee Members. 

Recent Meetings:

The Twentieth Divisional Meeting of the HEAD was held 2023 March 26-30, at the Hilton Waikaloa Village, HI. Please see the science program for lists of talks and posters.  Pictures of the meeting, and videos of the oral talks, are available. (Please note that currently only registered meeting attendees can view the videos.)

The Nineteenth Divisional Meeting of the HEAD was held from March 13-17, 2022, at the William Penn Omni, Pittsburgh, PA.  The William Penn Omni is a grand historic hotel that first opened in 1916 and is a Pittsburgh landmark.  Videos of the oral presentations are available.  Please see the photos  from the meeting, taken by the "court photographer" Felix Fuerst.

HEAD Frontier Seminar Series:

The next Frontier Seminar is Friday, December 8, at 1pm EST.  The talks are "Scary Barbie: An Extremely Energetic, Long-duration Tidal Disruption Event Candidate without a Detected Host Galaxy at z = 0.995", by Bhagya Madimugar Subrayan (Purdue University), "Detection of turbulence in the hot circumgalactic medium (CGM) of the Milky Way" by  Sanskriti Das (Stanford University) and "On the evolution of high luminosity and obscured AGN in the Stripe 82X field" by Alessandro Peca (University of Miami).  The talks will be via zoom.  Please e-mail the HEAD Secretary for the Zoom link.

Please see the HEAD Frontier Seminar Series for details on scheduled talks.

You can sign up 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.  

Videos of the presentations are available on the HEAD Frontier Seminar Series pages.  We will resume the Frontier Seminar Series in December, 2023.

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.


  • Congratulations to HEAD member Dr. Christine Jones Forman on her election to the National Academies of Sciences.

  • Congratulations to HEAD member Prof. Priyamvada Natarajan (Yale) on election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • Thanks to the generosity of Hale Bradt, we’re happy to report that his fascinating book on the making of the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer mission, “Chasing Black Holes: An Insider’s View of a Space Astronomy Mission (RXTE)” is now available for free to all HEAD members. “Hale Bradt’s behind-the-scenes book is a gripping view of the 20-year scientific, technical and personal struggle to create a new field of high time-resolution X-ray astronomy from concept to orbit.  The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer broke new, high ground in the study of high frequency X-ray phenomena, and made major, revolutionary discoveries on all timescales.” The book is available in epub and pdf versions.  Please read, and feel free to share the link with students, colleagues, and friends without restriction. 

  • We'd like to congratulate the winners of the Student Poster Prize for posters presented at the 20th Divisional Meeting last month.  The winner of the Graduate Student Poster prize was Megan Masterson of MIT for her poster "Hard X-ray Flares in NICER Monitoring of Binary SMBH Candidate AT2019cuk".  The winner of the Undergraduate Poster prize was Zachary Andalman (Yale) for his poster "Understanding Broad Line Emission in Tidal Disruption Events".  Honorable mentions were awarded to graduate students Samalka Anandagoda (Clemson) and Kenneth Buffo (University of Iowa), and undergrad Dana Kullgren (University of Delaware / Northwestern University).  

  • We're happy to announce the winners of the 2023 HEAD Prizes.  The Innovation Prize was awarded to Gordon Garmire and Mark Bautz for the development and support of the Chandra ACIS instrument; the Early Career Prize was awarded to Chiara Mingarelli for her  leadership in the analysis of pulsar timing array data; the Mid-Career Prize was awarded to Philip Fajardo Hopkins for developing numerical methods and tools to advance our theoretical understanding of important topics in high-energy astrophysics; the (first) Distinguished Career Prize was awarded to Meg Urry for her remarkable contributions to our understanding of a wide variety of topics in extragalactic high energy astrophysics; and the Bruno Rossi Prize was awarded to Anatoly Spitkovsky or his pioneering numerical simulations of astrophysical shocks and particle acceleration.  Congratulations to all the winners! Please see the HEAD Press Release for more information.
  • HEAD Election Results:  We're happy to report that Raffaella Margutti and Javier Garcia were elected as members of the Executive Committee, replacing Ryan Hickox and Eileen Meyer, who finished their tenure at the end of the 2023 Business Meeting.
  • HEAD members Bob Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell were awarded the first IAU Astronomy Outreach Prize, for “their more than 25 years of curating the daily Astronomy Picture of the Day, which is now available in more than 20 languages, seen by millions each day, and used in classrooms throughout the world.”
  • The HEAD Executive Committee is happy to announce that the 2022 Rossi Prize has been awarded to Keith Gendreau, Zaven Arzoumanian and the NICER Team for development of the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) and the revolutionary insights it is providing about the extreme environments of neutron stars and black holes, including the first precise and reliable measurement of a pulsar’s mass and radius from detailed modeling of its pulsed waveform.
  • The HEAD Executive Committee is happy to announce that the 2022 Dissertation Prize has been awarded to Kishalay De for his work on cosmic fireworks in the lives of compact binaries, conducted at the California Institute of Technology under the supervision of Prof. Mansi M. Kasliwal.
  • The HEAD Executive Committee is happy to announce the following prize winners for 2022:  the HEAD Early-Career prize was awarded to Prof. Laura Lopez; the HEAD Mid-Career prize was awarded to Dr. Brad Cenko; and the HEAD Innovation Prize was awarded to Dr. Keith Arnaud. The Executive Committee is also happy to announce that Dr. Dr. Ariadna Murguia Berthier, Dr. Kishalay De, and Dr. Jakob van den Eijnden have been named as finalists for the 2022 HEAD Dissertation Prize.  Please see the press release for more details. 
  • The results of the HEAD election were announced Jan 21, 2022.   Kristin Madsen was elected HEAD Vice Chair (replacing Randall Smith), Elizabeth Ferrara was elected HEAD Treasure (replacing Frits Paerels) and the new Executive Committee Members are  Tea Temim and Tamara Bogdanovic (replacing Erin Kara and Alexander van der Horst).  Mike Corcoran will continue as HEAD Secretary.
  • NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission launched at 1 a.m. EST Thursday, December 9 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  Congratulations IXPE team!
  • NASA announced the selection of  the Compton Spectrometer and Imager (COSI), led by John Tomsick (UC Berkeley), as the next small explorer mission.  COSI will survey the entire gamma-ray sky every day at energies between 0.2 and 5 MeV, with launch expected in 2025.
  • Dr. Allessandra Corsi, Dr. Gregg Hallinan, Dr. Mansi Manoj Kasliwal and Dr. Raffaella Margutti have been awarded the 2022 New Horizons in Physics Prize "For leadership in laying foundations for electromagnetic observations of sources of gravitational waves, and leadership in extracting rich information from the first observed collision of two neutron stars. 
  • Dr. Victoria Kaspi and Dr. Chryssa Kouveliotou have won the 2021 Shaw Prize in Astronomy, "for their contributions to our understanding of magnetars, a class of highly magnetized neutron stars that are linked to a wide range of spectacular, transient astrophysical phenomena.ties". 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Upcoming HEA Meetings
  • Older Items

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