UW News

December 30, 2015

UW astronomer Eric Agol honored by Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

UW News

Eric Agol

Eric Agol

Eric Agol, a University of Washington professor of astronomy, will receive the 2016 Lecar Prize from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The award, now in its third year, recognizes exceptional contributions to the study of exoplanets — those beyond our solar system — and theoretical astrophysics.

It is named for Myron S. “Mike” Lecar, who was with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory from 1965 to 2009, researching planet formation and the dynamics of gravity and our solar system. Lecar died in 2011 and the annual prize is supported by his estate.

“Eric’s research on exoplanets epitomizes the kind of outstanding, imaginative and innovative contributions that the Lecar Prize recognizes,” said Matthew Holman, Lecar’s longtime colleague, who also chairs the prize selection committee. “The impact of Eric’s work extends well beyond his own discoveries; his work has enabled countless other discoveries. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is honored that he has accepted this prize.”

Each Lecar Prize recipient receives an honorarium and delivers a lecture at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Agol will give his lecture on March 10, 2016, likely on variations in the timing of transits, or periods when a planet passes in front of its host star, dimming that star’s light enough to be measured.

Douglas Lin, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, received the 2014 prize, followed by Tsevi Mazeh of Tel Aviv University in 2015. Watch videos online of their lectures.

Lecar helped establish the first astronomical observatory in Israel and was a founding member of the Harvard Origins of Life initiative.

Agol, the author of many articles in astronomy and astrophysics journals, joined the UW in 2003 and became a full professor in 2014. In 2013 Agol discovered a five-planet system with the most Earth-like exoplanet found at that time. In 2014 he was on a team that found the first planetary system with seven planets that are seen to transit, or cross in front of their host stars.


For more information on Agol and his work, contact him at 206-543-7106 or agol@uw.edu.