Bradley Schaefer

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Bradley Elliott Schaefer
Born Bradley Elliott Schaefer
Residence Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Nationality American
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D., 1983)
Known for MIT Mystery Hunt, photometry
Awards Gruber Prize in Cosmology, LSU Distinguished Faculty Award
Scientific career
Fields Astronomy
Institutions Louisiana State University

Bradley Elliott Schaefer is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Louisiana State University. He received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983.

Early life[edit]

In addition to his academic pursuits, Schaefer is remembered at MIT as the founder of the MIT Mystery Hunt in 1981 during his graduate studies there.[1][2] The tradition of the hunt continues today.

Scientific career[edit]

His research interests include the use of photometry of exploding objects to get results of interest for physical cosmology. He has also researched the dwarf planet Pluto with the aim of understanding the atmospheric variability of the system. Bradley has also studied KIC 8462852, a star with unusual within-day light fluctuations of about 20%, and found that the century-long light (from 1890 to 1989) from the star faded by about 20% as well, adding to the unusual luminosity of the star.[3][4]

Hipparchus's Star Catalog[edit]

In 2005, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in San Diego, California, Schaefer reported on a potential link between the long lost star catalog of Hipparchus and a sculpture called The Farnese Atlas, created in the 2nd century, and thus a potential source for antique astronomy. Hipparchus is considered to be one of the greatest astronomers of ancient times, but most of his works are lost to history. The Farnese Atlas depicts Atlas, from Greek mythology, bearing the weight of the heavens upon his shoulders. The heavens are represented by a globe showing the constellations as seen from Earth. By examining the positions of the constellations, Schaefer determined that they are accurately placed according to the positions they occupied at the time of Hipparchus. He concludes that Hipparchus's work may have been the reference for the statue, although this conclusion has been challenged by some other astronomers.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2007, Schaefer was awarded a share of the $500,000 Gruber Prize in Cosmology, as part of the Supernova Cosmology Project, for the discovery of Dark Energy.[6] In October 2011, this work was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, with the prize going to the head of the Supernova Cosmology Project.[7]

In 2010, Schaefer was awarded the LSU Distinguished Faculty Award as recognition of a sustained record of excellence in teaching and research.[8]


  1. ^ Marcott, Amy. "Happy 30…er…29th Birthday, Mystery Hunt!". Slice of MIT. MIT Alumni. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Albert, Eric (July 1991). "The Great Annual MIT Mystery Hunt". Games. Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  3. ^ Aron, Jacob (15 January 2016). "Comets can't explain weird 'alien megastructure' star after all". New Scientist. Retrieved 16 January 2016. 
  4. ^ Schaefer, Bradley E. (13 January 2016). "KIC 8462852 Faded at an Average Rate of 0.165+-0.013 Magnitudes Per Century From 1890 To 1989". The Astrophysical Journal. 822: L34. arXiv:1601.03256Freely accessible [astro-ph.SR]. Bibcode:2016ApJ...822L..34S. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/822/2/L34. 
  5. ^ Discrepancies between Hipparchus and the Farnese globe
  6. ^ 2007 Gruber Prize to Supernova Cosmology Project and High-z Supernova Search Team
  7. ^ 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics to leaders of Supernova Cosmology Project and High-z Supernova Search Team
  8. ^ LSU Distinguished Faculty Award[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]