Oct. 26, 2012 —
The award was based on Dr. Pannuti and his long-standing body of work as a research astrophysicist. His research involves multi-wavelength observations of Galactic and extragalactic supernova remnants and studies of the discrete X-ray source populations in nearby galaxies. He has built a consistent and robust research agenda based on these investigations. He utilizes the MSU 21 Meter Space Tracking Antenna, as well as other ground-based observatories (the Karl Jansky Very Large Array as operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory), and space telescopes (Chandra and XMM-Newton) in his work.
Among the major objectives of Dr. Pannuti's work is to identify X-ray counterparts to remnants of supernova explosions that have been identified by prior optical and radio surveys of nearby galaxies. Supernova explosions are among the most energetic events in the universe. They are catastrophic events that occur at the end of the life of the most massive stars as well as evolved white dwarf stars located in binary systems. Supernova explosions have been known to outshine the entire galaxy of stars that they reside in. Supernovae can, for a brief period of time, emit more energy than the collective radiation from all of the host galaxy’s stars (typical galaxies may contain 100 billion stars or more).
“Studies of supernova remnants are intrinsically important: they are responsible for accelerating cosmic-ray particles and for enriching the interstellar medium of galaxies with atoms of heavier elements. Supernova remnants located in our own galaxy -- the Milky Way -- are often difficult to study effectively because interstellar gas and dust along the lines of sight to these sources significantly diminishes their light. By examining populations of supernova remnants in nearby galaxies, we can study properties of these sources in a manner which addresses the challenges in studying remnants located in our own galaxy, the Milky Way," said Dr. Pannuti.
Previous work of Dr. Pannuti's has included the discovery of a previously unknown neutron star residing within the Galactic supernova remnant CTB 1 and modeling the highest energy cosmic-ray particles that are emitted by Galactic supernova remnants. These scientific efforts represent a significant set of accomplishments in modern X-ray astronomy.
“Dr. Pannuti's work has culminated in an extraordinarily high annual publication record in the top tier astrophysics journals and in numerous grants from federal and state sources to support this research. He led the establishment of a research program in astrophysics at Morehead State that is receiving significant international attention, all while involving our undergraduate students in this top-level research and financially supporting them through his grant activity. These research efforts have put MSU on the radar of students wishing to prepare for careers in astronomy and astrophysics,” said Dr. Ben Malphrus, chair of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences.
“This award recognizes Dr. Pannuti's extraordinary accomplishments in astrophysics research. Not only is Dr. Pannuti's research well-known internationally, but his emphasis on engaging students in his research is outstanding. The KAS Superlative Award is well-deserved," said Dr. Roger McNeil, dean of the College of Science and Technology in which the Department of Earth and Space Sciences is located.
Dr. Malphrus noted that Charlie Mason, professor of geology, won the KAS Outstanding University Teacher Award in 2009.
Born in Irvington, N.Y., Dr. Pannuti received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. He earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of New Mexico.
He worked at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at MIT and at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech before joining MSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences in 2006.
For additional information contact the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at 606-783 2381.