Dr. Tod R. LauerThe New York Times article Dark, Perhaps Forever said
Having been impelled apart by the force of the Big Bang, the galaxies, in defiance of cosmic gravity, are picking up speed on a dash toward eternity.
Although cosmologists have adopted a cute name, dark energy, for whatever is driving this apparently antigravitational behavior on the part of the universe, nobody claims to understand why it is happening, or its implications for the future of the universe and of the life within it, despite thousands of learned papers, scores of conferences and millions of dollars’ worth of telescope time. It has led some cosmologists to the verge of abandoning their fondest dream: a theory that can account for the universe and everything about it in a single breath.
Last year a committee from the National Academy of Sciences recommended that a dark energy observatory be the next mission in an astrophysics program called Beyond Einstein.
There are now three competitors angling for the job: Dr. Perlmutter’s SNAP, for Supernova Acceleration Probe; Adept, or Advanced Dark Energy Telescope, led by Charles Bennett of Johns Hopkins; and Destiny, for Dark Energy Space Telescope, led by Tod Lauer of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson.
Tod R. Lauer, Ph.D. is Associate Astronomer, NOAO.
His areas of interest include:
Cosmology, Large Scale Structure of the Universe, Evolution of Galaxies,
Distance Scale, Structure of Galaxies, Dense Stellar System, Black Holes
in Galactic Nuclei, Stellar Populations, and Image
Tod coauthored The slope of the black-hole mass versus velocity dispersion correlation, The Centers of Early-Type Galaxies with HST. IV. Central Parameter Relations, Axisymmetric Dynamical Models of the Central Regions of Galaxies, Black Hole Mass Estimates from Reverberation Mapping and from Spatially Resolved Kinematics, Hubble Space Telescope Observations of M32: The Color-Magnitude Diagram, Brightest Cluster Galaxy Profile Shapes, The Far Field Hubble Constant, and The Photometry of Undersampled Point Spread Functions. Read the full list of his publications!
His research projects include:
The Nuker Team: HST Investigations of the Centers of Galaxies
This is an ongoing project to use HST to study the central structure of early type galaxies. The program combines WFPC2 imaging with FOS and STIS spectroscopy. A key part of the program is understanding the demographics of massive central black holes.
Project Deeprange: A Deep Wide Area I-Band Survey
This survey explored the evolution of large scale structure over the age of the universe. This project used KPNO 4-m CCD images to identify faint galaxies to 24th mag over a contiguous 16-square degree area of sky. Analysis is in progress.
Project Warpfire: The Motion of the Local Group
Measurements were taken of the motion of the Local Group of galaxies with respect to a frame comprising a volume-limited full-sky sample of Abell clusters within 15,000 km/s. Work is now progress to extend the frame to 24,000 km/s.
The NOAO Deep-Wide Survey: A Deep Multi-color Optical/IR Imaging Survey
This is a project to develop a multi-color database of a diverse set of faint objects as tracers of large-scale structure at early times in the universe.
Tod earned his B.S. in Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1979 and his Ph.D. in Astronomy at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1983. Asteroid (3135) Lauer was named after him and he was awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1992 and the AURA Award for Outstanding Science in 1993.
Read Can the US get Beyond Einstein?, Hubble Finds Mysterious Disk Of Blue Stars Around A Black Hole, Massive Stars Can Grow Near Black Holes, and Milky Way Gets a Tug Way Out There.