Wesleyan portrait of William  Herbst

William Herbst

John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus


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BA Princeton University
MAA Wesleyan University
MSC University of Toronto
PHD University of Toronto

William Herbst

I am an optical astronomer interested in low mass star and planet formation. I study the light variations of extremely young stars that are analogous to the Sun at the time the Solar System was forming. I use telescopes on campus and around the world (and above it!) to carry on this research. One object of particular interest that we discovered here at Wesleyan is KH 15D, also known as the "winking star". It is a unique astronomical object that promises to tell us much about protoplanetary disks. More recently, I have become interested in chondrules and chondritic meteorites, which our most primitive samples of the solar nebula. This is the material that planets such as the Earth formed out of. 

I grew up in southern New Jersey and was an undergraduate at Princeton, where I majored in Astrophysics. I received my Ph.D. in 1974 from the University of Toronto. I taught for two years at York University in Toronto and then accepted a position as a Carnegie Fellow at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, a branch of the Carnegie Insitution in Washington, D.C. In 1978 I joined the faculty at Wesleyan University where I am now John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy.

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