Alicia M. Soderberg

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A. M. Soderberg on top of Rundetårn in 2001.

Alicia Margarita Soderberg (born 1977) is an American astrophysicist who is an assistant professor of Astronomy at Harvard University and a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics whose research focuses on supernovae.

Born in Boston, Soderberg was raised in Falmouth, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, where she attended Falmouth High School and spent summers at the nearby Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution studying the effect of water pollution on coastal ponds. She attended Bates College, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2000 with a double major in Math and Physics and participated during the summer in programs at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. She earned a Master of Science from the University of Cambridge in Applied Mathematics. She was awarded her doctorate in Astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology under the guidance of advisor Shrinivas Kulkarni, where her thesis used data gathered from the Palomar Observatory and the Very Large Array to provide a better understanding of gamma ray bursts and stripped core-collapse supernovae.[1]

On February 18, 2006, Soderberg was a member of a group of researchers who detected the gamma-ray burst GRB 060218 located 440 million light years (135 Mpc) away in the constellation Aries. The detection of the associated supernova SN2006aj provided the best evidence to date tying gamma-ray bursts and supernovae.[2]

Soderberg and her colleagues detected the supernova SN 2008D as it was occurring on January 9, 2008, using data from NASA's Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission X-ray space telescope, from a precursor star in the spiral galaxy NGC 2770, 88 million light years away (27 Mpc). They alerted eight other orbiting and ground-based observatories to record the event. [3][4] The team was able to catch the supernova in action because they had been making observations of NGC 2770 to observe supernova SN 2007uy.[5]


  1. ^ Short Biography: Alicia Soderberg, Harvard University. Accessed September 7, 2010.
  2. ^ Reddy, Francis. "A supernova caught in the act: Astronomers around the world watched as an underpowered gamma-ray burst evolved into an exploding star.", Astronomy Magazine, August 30, 2006. Accessed September 7, 2010.
  3. ^ Overbye, Dennis. "Scientists See Supernova in Action", The New York Times, May 22, 2008. Accessed September 7, 2010.
  4. ^ Editorial. "In at the Birth of Death", The New York Times, June 2, 2008. Accessed September 7, 2010.
  5. ^ Thompson, Andrea. "Supernova Birth Observed for First Time",, May 21, 2008. Accessed September 7, 2010.