University of Pittsburgh
February 19, 2001


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 20 -- Andrew Hopkins, of the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded one of 12 Hubble Fellowships for 2001, funded by NASA and administered by the Space Telescope Science Institute. Hopkins will conduct his fellowship at Pitt, working with professor Andrew Connolly on the evolution of star-forming galaxies. Hopkins is the third Pitt astrophysicist to be awarded this prestigious honor, following Kenneth M. Lanzetta, in 1991, and Limin Lu, in 1994.

Initiated in 1990, the Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship Program has gained a high level of prestige in the international astronomical community as a result of its exceptional standards. The program awards fellowships to recent Ph.D. recipients in astronomy, physics, and related disciplines. Hubble Fellows take appointments at participating host institutions throughout the U.S. for research related to the mission of the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble Fellowships are awarded annually, and renewable for up to three years.

Hopkins is researching the connection between star formation rate and the ages and shapes of galaxies.

"The rate at which stars form in galaxies in the more distant universe, when the universe was about one-third of its current age, is much greater than what is detected in present day galaxies," said Hopkins. "Also, the way galaxies currently appear, as spiral or elliptical, is quite different from those in the early universe, where galaxies have more amorphous shapes.

"Since the way galaxies look is determined by the stars composing them, we presume there to be a connection between the development of galaxy shapes towards what we see today and this period of extreme star formation rate in galaxies," Hopkins said.

Hopkins will analyze Hubble Space Telescope observations of star-forming galaxies at early times in the development of the universe, and will tie that information in with subsequent galaxy evolution, spanning the latter two-thirds of the age of the universe, through surveys with ground-based telescopes.