Thomas M. Bania

Professor of Astronomy, College of Arts & Sciences

Tom Bania is a Professor of Astronomy and is a founding member of the Institute for Astrophysical Research. He studies the interstellar medium of the Milky Way and other galaxies primarily using the techniques of radio spectroscopy. He has published over 200 papers to date. Bania obtained his Ph.D. in Astronomy from The University of Virginia in 1977 for a dissertation he wrote while a Junior Research Associate at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (“Carbon Monoxide in the Galactic Center and Other Studies of Galactic Structure”). For his thesis he made and analyzed the first large-scale map of the distribution of carbon monoxide, CO, gas in the inner region of our Milky Way Galaxy, including the Galactic Center. He then became a Research Associate at the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center’s Arecibo Observatory during 1976-1978 where he became head of visiting scientist observationing support and began a series of experiments that led to the Boston University – Arecibo Observatory Galactic Atomic Hydrogen Survey.

For the past 25 years Bania has used extremely sensitive measurements of the 3-He+ hyperfine transition at 8.7 GHz to study Big Bang primordial nucleosynthesis, stellar nucleosynthesis, and Galactic chemical evolution. (see “The cosmological density of baryons from observations of 3-He+ in the Milky Way,” Bania et al. 2002, Nature, 415, 54.) Bania joined the Department of Astronomy in 1981. He initiated the Boston University part of the 10 year effort to construct and operate the Antarctic Sub-millimeter Telescope and Remote Observatory (AST/RO) at the geographic South Pole. AST/RO was a collaboration between Boston University and the SAO Center for Astrophysics. For over 6 years AST/RO studied [C I] emission using state-of-the-art sub-millimeter wavelength (500—1,000 microns) spectrometers. He was part of the Boston University-Five College Radio Observatory Galactic Ring Survey team that mapped the distribution of 13-CO emission in the inner Galaxy. He was also one of the original members of the NASA Spitzer infrared space telescope Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE–and, yes, he was responsible for the last word in this acronym) Legacy Science team which mapped the distribution of mid-infrared emission in the inner Galactic plane. Bania continues to serve as a Trustee of the Northeast Radio Observatory Corporation which operates Haystack Observatory in Westford, MA. He was part of the Haystack Observatory team led by Alan Rogers which, after a 50 year hunt by radio astronomers throughout the world, has now definitively detected the 327 MHz hyperfine transition of deuterium toward the Galactic anti-center.