Robert J. Nemiroff

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Robert J. Nemiroff is an Astrophysicist and Professor of Physics at Michigan Technological University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 1987 and his B.S. from Lehigh University in Engineering Physics in 1982.[1] He is an active researcher with interests that include gamma-ray bursts, gravitational lensing, and cosmology, and is the cofounder and coeditor of Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD),[2] the home page of which receives over a million hits a day, approximately 20% of traffic.[3] He is married and has one daughter.[4]


Nemiroff's research interests include gamma-ray bursts, gravitational lensing, sky monitoring, and cosmology. Among other findings, his research on gamma-ray bursts:

  • showed (along with others) that gamma-ray bursts are consistent with a cosmological distance scale origin before they were discovered to be so distant[5][6]
  • led a team that, along with others, showed a lack of energy-dependence in the speed of photons from distant gamma-ray bursts which implies, in contrast to some theories of quantum gravity, that the universe is smooth below the Planck-length scale, as Einstein had predicted[7][8][9]

In 1999 Nemiroff and colleague Bruce Rafert published a paper showing that continuous astronomical sky monitors could soon become a reality.[10] With students, Nemiroff's initial night sky monitor was an automatically repeating SLR camera with a fisheye lens deployed to Michigan Technological University in 1999,[11] Nemiroff then led a group that designed, built, and deployed the first astronomical all sky optical web monitor, dubbed a CONtinuous CAMera (CONCAM), and in 2000 deployed it to Kitt Peak National Observatory.[12] By the mid-2000s, most major astronomical observatories deployed CONCAM or CONCAM-like devices together capable of monitoring most of the night sky most of the time.[13] Astronomical all sky web monitors are now common at astronomical observing sites.[14] Subsequent collaborative efforts in astronomical deep-sky monitoring now include Pan-STARRs and LSST.

In 1986, he predicted the likelihood of microlensing[15] and calculated basic microlensing induced light curves for several possible lens-source configurations in his 1987 thesis.[16] Among his microlensing findings, he, along with others:

  • predicted before observational recovery that microlensing light curves can effectively resolve the surface of source stars[17]
  • showed that microlensing boosts the brightnesses of stars actually below the magnitude limit of a survey over the survey limit[18]

Nemiroff and graduate student Bijunath R. Patla showed that the Sun is a "very interesting gravitational lens,"[19][20] and Nemiroff found that GRB pulses start at the same time at every energy and that they are scale invariant over energy.[21]

His complete publication list is available from ADS.

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)[edit]

Nemiroff is one of two creators and editors of the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website. Started in 1995 by Nemiroff and Dr. Jerry T. Bonnell, APOD is consistently among the most popular astronomy sites.[22] Its home page typically receives over one million hits per day;[23] APOD has served over one billion images [24] since its start. It is translated into more than 20 languages and has social media outlets on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and various apps.[25]

Nemiroff and Bonnell were awarded the 2015 Klumpke-Roberts Award by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific "for outstanding contributions to public understanding and appreciation of astronomy" for their work on APOD.[26][27]

Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL)[edit]

Nemiroff and John Wallin established the Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL), an online registry of scientist-written software used in astronomy or astrophysics research, in 1999.[28] The ASCL improves the transparency of astrophysics research by making the software used in research discoverable for examination.[29]


Recognition and awards[edit]

He was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2022 "for exceptional daily astronomy outreach for over 25 years, primarily through the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website, which has served billions of space-related images with explanations translated daily into over 20 languages".[30] In 2023, an asteroid formerly known as 2002 GB185 was named "(270558) Nemiroff" in recognition of his role in APOD.[31]

Nemiroff and Bonnell were awarded the inaugural International Astronomical Union (IAU) Astronomy Outreach Prize [32] in 2022.

  • NSF CAREER Award (1997)
  • MTU Research Award (2012)
  • MTU University Professor (2021)


  1. ^ "RJN's Bio Page". Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  2. ^ O'Brien, Miles (September 21, 2002). "Astronomy Picture of the Day". CNN Saturday Morning News. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Alexa". Archived from the original on 23 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  4. ^ "About Astronomy Picture of the Day". Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  5. ^ Norris, J. P.; Nemiroff, R. J.; Scargle, J. D.; Kouveliotou, C.; Fishman, G. J.; Meegan, C. A.; Paciesas, W. S.; Bonnell, J. T. (April 1994). "Detection of signature consistent with cosmological time dilation in gamma-ray bursts". Astrophysical Journal. 424 (2): 540–545. arXiv:astro-ph/9312049. Bibcode:1994ApJ...424..540N. doi:10.1086/173912. S2CID 18635092.
  6. ^ Wilford, John Noble (January 16, 1994). "Gamma-Ray Finding Bolsters Einstein Theory, Report Says". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Spacetime: A smoother brew than we knew". Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  8. ^ Nemiroff, Robert J.; Connolly, Ryan; Holmes, Justin; Kostinski, Alexander B. (June 2012). "Bounds on Spectral Dispersion from Fermi-Detected Gamma Ray Bursts". Physical Review Letters. 108 (23): 231103. arXiv:1109.5191. Bibcode:2012PhRvL.108w1103N. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.231103. PMID 23003941. S2CID 15592150.
  9. ^ Cowen, Ron (10 January 2012). "Cosmic race ends in a tie". Nature. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  10. ^ Nemiroff, R.J.; Rafert, J.B. (1999). "Toward a Continuous Record of the Sky". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 111 (761): 886–897. arXiv:astro-ph/9809403. Bibcode:1999PASP..111..886N. doi:10.1086/316402. S2CID 16621680.
  11. ^ Zimmer, G.A.; Pereira, W.E.; Nemiroff, R.J.; Rafert, J.B. (1999). "A Passive Sky Variability Monitor for Under $1500". American Astronomical Society, 194th AAS Meeting, #70.09. Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society. 31: 93. Bibcode:1999AAS...194.7009Z.
  12. ^ Pereira, W.E.; Nemiroff, R.J.; Rafert, J.B.; Ftaclas, C.; Perez-Ramirez, D. (2000). "CONCAM Sky Monitor Operating at KPNO". American Astronomical Society, 197th AAS Meeting, #115.10. Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society. 32: 1599. Bibcode:2000AAS...19711510P.
  13. ^ Nemiroff, R.J.; Schwarz, H.E.; et al. (CONCAM Collaboration & TASCA Collaboration) (2003). "Expanding Fisheye Webcam Network Now Capable of Monitoring Most of the Night Sky". American Astronomical Society Meeting 202, #03.03. Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society. 35: 702. Bibcode:2003AAS...202.0303N.
  14. ^ See, for example, & ;
  15. ^ Nemiroff, Robert J. (June 1986). "Random gravitational lensing". Astrophysics and Space Science. 123 (2): 381–387. Bibcode:1986Ap&SS.123..381N. doi:10.1007/BF00653957. S2CID 122855233.
  16. ^ Nemiroff, Robert J. (December 1987). "Prediction and analysis of basic gravitational microlensing phenomena". Bibcode:1987PhDT........12N. doi:10.5281/zenodo.33974. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  17. ^ Nemiroff, Robert J.; Wickramasinghe, W. A. D. T. (March 1994). "Finite source sizes and the information content of macho-type lens search light curves". Astrophysical Journal Letters. 424 (1): L21–L23. arXiv:astro-ph/9401005. Bibcode:1994ApJ...424L..21N. doi:10.1086/187265. S2CID 7563285.
  18. ^ Nemiroff, Robert J. (November 1994). "Magnification bias in galactic microlensing searches". Astrophysical Journal. 435 (2): 682–684. arXiv:astro-ph/9403013. Bibcode:1994ApJ...435..682N. doi:10.1086/174845. S2CID 17221617.
  19. ^ Nemiroff, Robert. "Who is this R. J. Nemiroff? Some Favorite Astronomy Ideas". Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  20. ^ Patla, Bijunath; Nemiroff, Robert J. (2008). "Gravitational Lensing Characteristics of the Transparent Sun". The Astrophysical Journal. 685 (2): 1297–1303. arXiv:0711.4811. Bibcode:2008ApJ...685.1297P. doi:10.1086/588805. S2CID 15979972.
  21. ^ Nemiroff, Robert (2000). "The Pulse Scale Conjecture and the Case of BATSE Trigger 2193". The Astrophysical Journal. 544 (2): 805–810. arXiv:astro-ph/0001345. Bibcode:2000ApJ...544..805N. doi:10.1086/317230. S2CID 10581733.
  22. ^ Pullen, Lee; Russo, Pedro (June 2010). "Robert Nemiroff: Communicating Astronomy 365 Days a Year". Communicating Astronomy with the Public. 8 (8): 22–23. Bibcode:2010CAPJ....8...22P. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  23. ^ "From 14 to a Million: The Astronomical Growth of the Astronomy Picture of the Day". Physics Buzz. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  24. ^ Nemiroff, R.; Bonnell, J., eds. (16 June 2012). "APOD Turns 17". Astronomy Picture of the Day. NASA. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  25. ^ Nemiroff, R.; Bonnell, J., eds. (16 June 2012). "APOD Turns 17". Astronomy Picture of the Day. NASA. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  26. ^ "Klumpke-Roberts Award of The Astronomical Society of the Pacific". Astronomical Society.
  27. ^ "The Astronomical Society of the Pacific Announces Its 2015 Award Recipients For Astronomy Research And Education". Astronomical Society.
  28. ^ Nemiroff, R. J.; Wallin, J. F. (May 1999). "The Astrophysics Source Code Library:". Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society. 31: 885. Bibcode:1999AAS...194.4408N. {{cite journal}}: External link in |title= (help)
  29. ^ "Astrophysics Source Code Library". Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  30. ^ "Fellows nominated in 2022". APS Fellows archive. American Physical Society. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  31. ^ International Astronomical Union (2023-01-16). WGSBN Bulletin Volume 3, #1 (PDF) (Report). WG Small Bodies Nomenclature. Retrieved 2023-01-24.
  32. ^ "IAU Announces Winners of First Prizes for Astronomy Outreach, Development and Education". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 5 September 2023.

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