Peter McCullough

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Peter R. McCullough
Peter R. McCullough.jpg
McCullough circa 2008
Born (1964-08-20) August 20, 1964 (age 56)
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of California, Berkeley
Known forDiscovering transiting extrasolar planets
Scientific career
InstitutionsSpace Telescope Science Institute
Doctoral advisorCarl Heiles

Peter R. McCullough (/məˈkʌlə/; born August 20, 1964, Providence, Rhode Island) is an American astronomer, founder of the XO Project and discoverer of extrasolar transiting planets, such as XO-1b.[1][2] Soon after the U.S. declassification of the laser beacon adaptive optics technique in 1991, he identified dusty disks around newborn stars, later referred to as proplyds, in observations of the Orion Nebula made with the Starfire Optical Range.[3] Astronomers John Gaustad, McCullough, and David Van Buren with engineer Wayne Rosing mapped the entire southern sky in the hydrogen alpha transition with sufficient sensitivity for decontamination of the Milky Way from the cosmic microwave background.[4][5] McCullough's modification to the Stromgren sphere model often produces more realistic results than the original.[citation needed]



McCullough attended public primary school in Massachusetts and Athens Drive High School in North Carolina. In summers between his undergraduate years, he interned at the Wind River National Outdoor Leadership School, the Palo Alto CA police department, Weyerhauser, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array. McCullough received a Bachelor of Science in physics in 1986 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At the University of California, Berkeley, he earned a PhD in astrophysics in 1993.[6]


McCullough was a Hubble postdoctoral fellow, and then an assistant professor in the Astronomy Department of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.[7] Since 2002 he has been employed by the Space Telescope Science Institute.[8] He also works on the science team of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. In 2009-2010 he was a visiting scientist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Institut d'astrophysique de Paris.[9][10]

Awards and Fellowships[edit]

McCullough has received numerous awards throughout his career. His undergraduate education was supported entirely by merit scholarships.[11][12] NASA granted him a graduate student researcher award and a Hubble postdoctoral fellowship in 1993.[13] He was a recipient of the Sloan Fellowship.[14] In recognition of his university teaching and research, the U.S. National Science Foundation granted him a CAREER award[15] and the Research Corporation selected him as a Cottrell Scholar.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Extrasolar Planet Encyclopaedia — XO-1 B".
  2. ^ "Amateurs Help Discover Transiting Exoplanet". 2006-05-23. Archived from the original on 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  3. ^ Liu, Michael C. (2008). "LGS AO science impact: Present and future perspectives". In Hubin, Norbert; Max, Claire E; Wizinowich, Peter L (eds.). Adaptive Optics Systems. 7015. p. 701508. arXiv:0807.0634. doi:10.1117/12.789766. S2CID 119254258.
  4. ^ Gaustad, John E.; McCullough, Peter R.; Rosing, Wayne; Van Buren, Dave (2001). "A Robotic Wide‐Angle Hα Survey of the Southern Sky". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 113 (789): 1326–1348. arXiv:astro-ph/0108518. Bibcode:2001PASP..113.1326G. doi:10.1086/323969. S2CID 17231573.
  5. ^ "SHASSA".
  6. ^ "UC Berkeley Ph.D.s in Astronomy and Astrophysics". Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  7. ^ "Course Explorer".
  8. ^ "Hubble Heritage".
  9. ^ "CfA Colloquium Schedule".
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Morehead-Cain, the "oldest, most prestigious merit scholarship program in the United States"".
  12. ^ "List of Morehead-Cain Scholars".
  13. ^ "Listing of all Hubble Fellows 1990-2016". Archived from the original on February 20, 2017. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  14. ^ "List of Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows". Archived from the original on 2011-05-19.
  15. ^ "NSF CAREER award: The Faint Interstellar Medium and Stardial".
  16. ^ "List of Cottrell Scholars" (PDF).[permanent dead link]