Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Pittsburgh
Curriculum Vitae and Publications
Observational Cosmology and Fundamental Physics
My research focuses on discovering the nature of the dark energy currently accelerating the expansion rate of the Universe. I use the tools of observational astronomy to address this question of fundamental physics. The currently most successful probe of the kinematics of the Universe over the past 10 billion years has involved the use of Type Ia supernovae (SNeIa) to measure the evolution of luminosity distance vs. redshift (Riess98, Perlmutter99). I have been involved in the effort to constrain the nature of dark energy through measurements of the equation-of-state parameter of the dark energy, w=pressure/density (Wood-Vasey08). This is a field where the observations are clearly far out in front of theory and thus call for investigation by multiple pathways to confirm the observational results and explore new areas to provide further guidance for the hope of an eventually theoretical explanation for dark energy that quantitative predicts its observed behavior today.
In the immediate future I am involved in ongoing studies of SNeIa in the near-infrared to improve our ability to measure distances in the Universe.
Looking toward the future, I am leading efforts to maximize the SNIa cosmological science from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will be the major ground-based optical effort in operation during 2020-2030.
The general technical theme of my research work is moving into the next generation of time-domain astronomy where we will be analyzing large data sets using sophisticated databases and to ask new kinds of questions as we continue our exploration of the Universe.
Sloan Digital Sky Survey III: Spokesperson from 2011-2015.
New statistical techniques in SNIa Cosmology.
- LSST Data Management Validation Scientist (2017-present)
- LSST Data Management Survey Quality Assurance Scientist (2015-present)
- Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC) Data Access Task Force (2018-present)
- Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC) Supernova Working Group Co-Convener: 2012-2016
- Infrared Observations of Type Ia supernovae
- Nearby SNeIa with PAIRITEL. From 2000-2010, we doubled the sample of SNeIa observed in the NIR and confirmed that they are standard in their absolute brightness to 0.15 magnitudes or 7% in distance. See Wood-Vasey et al. 2008, ApJ, 689, 377.
The PAIRITEL work continued in work led by Andy Friedman in Friedman et al. 2015.
- Progenitors of Type Ia supernovae.
- Search for Transiting Extrasolar Planets at the University of Pittsburgh (STEPUP). We are following-up candidate targets from the SDSS-III MARVELS project to search for potentially transiting systems. This work has been led by Melanie Good, MS in Physics (2011), and continues through a team of undergraduates.
- Type Ia supernova cosmology.
- Transient and Variable Event Classification and Detection.
Outreach and Press
- SDSS-III Press Releases
- Talking about SDSS-III on the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. Interview by Diane Turnshek. December 15, 2011.
Was not published.
- Explanation on the expansion of the Universe. Popular Science, October, 2011
- Pitt Researchers Tackle Flood of Space Data With $1.6 Million Project. By Karen Hoffman. University of Pittsburgh News. June 28, 2011.
- "The Transient Universe." Unitarium Forum. October 17, 2010.
"Pitt Planet Hunters Track Long, Strange Voyage of Distant Planet as Part of International Collaboration." By Morgan Kelly and Karen Hoffman. Sep 27, 2010.
- "Pitt astronomer watches the expanding Universe." By Sean Hamill. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Tuesday, August 11, 2010
- Feature article on Pan-STARRS, dark energy, and supernova cosmology.
- "Pitt professor tackles universe." By Ellen Mitchell. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Sunday, July 4, 2010
- Article on the official start of the Pan-STARRS survey telescope in Hawaii.
- "Pitt Astronomer Leads Search for Supernovae, Star-Gobbling Black Holes for International Telescope Project." By Morgan Kelly. University of Pittsburgh News.
- "Pitt professor among galaxy of researchers." By Mike Cronin. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Wednesday, September 29, 2010
- Pitt Science Days Lecture on Allegheny Observatory, October 2009.
- Lecture to the Amateur Astronomy Association of Pittsburgh, Oct 2, 2009.
- Interviewed by SEED magazine on dark energy and cosmology. Sep 28, 2009.
- Carnegie Science Center, Cafe Scientifique, June 1, 2009: "The Dynamic Universe: Observing the Changing Sky Throughout the Cosmos."
- Allegheny Observatory public lecture, May 15, 2009: "The Transient Sky."
- Appearance on WQED special on Allegheny Observatory. April 2, 2009.
- Radio interview on "Overnight America", KMOX, on the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Mar 5, 2009.
- Interviewed by Science Watch about the ESSENCE Supernova Survey, "Observational constraints on the nature of dark energy: First cosmological results from the ESSENCE supernova survey"
- Radio interview on William Herschel on WQED. February 2009.
- Dark Energy at Sunrise
The WUML Sunrise program at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell on dark energy, astronomy, exploration, and the joy of science.
- Interview on String Theory
An interview on string theory and extra dimensions with a pretty sharp high-school student.
Papers of Interest
pwv_kpno: A Python Package for Modeling the Atmospheric Transmission Function due to Precipitable Water Vapor
Perrefort, Daniel; Wood-Vasey, W. M.; Azalee Bostroem, K.; Gilmore, Kirk; Joyce, Richard; Corson, Charles
The First Data Release from SweetSpot: 74 Supernovae in 36 Nights on WIYN+WHIRC
A. Weyant, W. M. Wood-VAsey, R. Joyce, L. Allen, P. Garnavich, S. W. Jha, J. R. Kroboth, T. Matheson, K. A. Ponder
Incorporating Astrophysical Systematics into a Generalized Likelihood for Cosmology with Type Ia Supernovae
K. Ponder, W. M. Wood-Vasey, A. R. Zentner
ApJ, 2016, Vol 825, 35.
CfAIR2: Near Infrared Light Curves of 94 Type Ia Supernovae.
Friedman, A. S.; W. M. Wood-Vasey et al.
ApJS, 2015, Vol 220, 9.
SweetSpot: Near-Infrared Observations of Thirteen Type Ia Supernovae from a New
NOAO Survey Probing the Nearby Smooth Hubble Flow
A. Weyant, W. M. Wood-Vasey, L. Allen, P. M. Garnavich, S. W. Jha, R. Joyce, T. Matheson
ApJ, 2014, Vol 784, 105.
Likelihood-Free Cosmological Inference with Type Ia Supernovae: Approximate Bayesian Computation for a Complete Treatment of Uncertainty
A. Weyant, C. Schafer, and W. M. Wood-Vasey.
ApJ, 2013, Vol 764, 116.
An Unbiased Method of Modeling the Local Peculiar Velocity Field with Type Ia Supernovae
A. Weyant, W. M. Wood-Vasey, L. Wasserman, P. Freeman.
ApJ, 2011, Vol 732, Issue 1, p. 65.
Improved Dark Energy Constraints from ~100 New CfA Supernova Type Ia Light Curves
M. Hicken, W. M. Wood-Vasey et al.
ApJ, 2009, Vol 702, Issue 2, pp. 1097-1140.
Type Ia Supernovae are Good Standard Candles in the Near Infrared: Evidence from PAIRITEL
W. M. Wood-Vasey et al.
ApJ, 2008, Vol 689, Issue 1, pp. 377-390.
Observational Constraints on the Nature of Dark Energy: First Cosmological Results from the ESSENCE Supernova Survey
[PDF] [ADS] astro-ph/0701041
W. M. Wood-Vasey et al.
ApJ, 2007, Vol 666, Issue 2, pp. 694-715.
Supplemental information available at http://www.ctio.noao.edu/essence/wresults.
Novae as a Mechanism for Producing Cavities around the Progenitors of SN 2002ic and Other SNe Ia
W. M. Wood-Vasey and J. L. Sokoloski.
ApJL, 2006, Vol 645, pp. L53-L56.
Rates and Progenitors of Type Ia Supernovae
W. M. Wood-Vasey, Ph.D. Dissertation in Physics, UC Berkeley, Dec 2004.
Dissertation Co-Chairs: Saul Perlmutter and George Smoot.
Last modified: Fri Feb 13 09:27:00 EST 2008