HEPL Seminar

Wednesday, 5 Oct 2005, 4.15 pm
(Refreshments available at 4pm)
Location AP200

Dr. Nicholas White
Laboratory for High Astrophysics NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

“The NASA Beyond Einstein Program”

The NASA Beyond Einstein program addresses the three most pressing questions about our Universe: What is dark energy, the force speeding the universe's expansion? What happens at the edge of a black hole? What powered the Big Bang? We are developing a series of space-based missions that will address these questions directly. The journey begins with two observatories now in formulation called Constellation-X and the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), which will probe space through the detection of X rays and gravitational radiation, respectively.

Complementing them will be three smaller, focused missions to study black holes, the Big Bang, and dark energy. The scientific and technological advances gained along the way will lead us to the ultimate goal of two bold Einstein Vision missions that will image a black hole and the Big Bang itself. We call this multi-mission endeavor "Beyond Einstein," because it should generate discoveries that will lead to a better understanding of fundamental physics beyond the theories that Einstein, his colleagues, and their predecessors developed.

Dr. Nicholas White, Chief of the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics (LHEA), is responsible for the planning, coordination, technical direction and administrative management of the research and development activities undertaken and carried out by the Laboratory. He was appointed to the position in February 2000. Dr White is also the Director of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive research Center (HEASARC) and Project Scientist for the Constellation-X and Astro-E2 missions. Prior to this White was the head of the X-ray Astrophysics Branch within the LHEA from 1995 - 2000 February. Between 1990 and 1995 White was the head of the Office of Guest Investigator programs. He was the ASCA project scientist from 1992 to the end of mission activities in 2000.

Dr White has been involved in X-ray astronomy for all of his research career, beginning in 1973 when he began his PhD thesis work at University College London's Mullard Space Science laboratory. His career spans a large part of the modern history of X-ray Astronomy and he has made a number of key discoveries, with over 100 publications in refereed journals. The topic of his 1977 Phd thesis "The Variability of Several Galactic X-ray Sources" included data obtained with a UK contributed instrument on the NASA Copernicus (OAO-3) satellite and the UK Ariel V satellite and resulted in the discovery of many new X-ray pulsars. In 1978 White moved to Goddard Space Flight Center as a University of Maryland Research fellow to continue his research utilizing data from the HEAO-1, and the Einstein (HEAO-2) Observatories. In 1982 White joined the European Space Agency (ESA) to work on the EXOSAT mission, where he was responsible for the science team at the Science Operations Center in Darmstadt Germany. In 1984 White became the EXOSAT project scientist at ESTEC in Holland and lead the effort to create the mission archive, which was one of the first to be made available over the internet. In 1990 White returned to GSFC to be the Director of the HEASARC. The HEASARC was the first of several successful wavelength specific active data archives designed to serve the astrophysics community, for which he was awarded the Goddard Space Flight Center Exceptional Achievement Award in May 1994.


rev 28 Sep 2005 NC