NSF Career Award to Prof. Ed Cackett
Wayne State University astronomer Ed Cackett, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the agency's most prestigious award for junior faculty.
The 5-year, $550,000 grant was awarded for Cackett's project entitled 'Reflection and reverberation in neutron star low-mass X-ray binaries'. Neutron stars are extreme stars - about the mass of the Sun but only the size of a city - containing ultra-dense material, many times the density of an atomic nucleus. These stars are so dense that the velocity needed to escape a neutron star's gravity is about 30% of the speed of light! Cackett studies these stars in binary systems where a Sun-like star orbits a neutron star. He will apply cutting-edge techniques to understand how the strong gravity around these objects pulls material from the companion star toward it - a process known as accretion.
Also as part of this award, he will develop a program to provide access to solar telescopes to metro-Detroit area schools to add a hands-on daytime observing aspect to their science curricula.
Cackett received his PhD from the University of St Andrews (UK), and held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Michigan and University of Cambridge (UK), before joining the Wayne State University faculty in January 2012.