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Gaspar Bakos Wins ASP's Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) today announces the winners of its 2011 awards for excellence in astronomy research and education.

The Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award is given annually to recognize recent significant observational results made possible by innovative advances in astronomical instrumentation and techniques. The 2011 winner of the award is Dr. Gaspar Bakos of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for his development of the Hungarian-made Automated Telescope Network (HATNet). HATNet is a suite of fully automated, small-aperture photometric telescopes whose primary purpose is to detect extra-solar planets in orbits that carry them in front of their parent stars as viewed from Earth. The periodic dips in the brightness of these stars as the “exoplanets” transit their disks reveal the presence of the planets. HATNet-detected exoplanets have been formative in the development of scientific understanding of exoplanetary systems, and Bakos’ work has advanced technology to reach high photometric precision on wide fields with many stars. His efforts have provided prime targets for follow up studies by the Spitzer Space Telescope with small error bars on exoplanet radii and orbital parameters. For his innovative development of ground-based robotic photometric exoplanet detection methods and associated analysis tools, Gaspar Bakos is recognized with the Muhlmann Award.