Dr. Kim Weaver is an expert in the field of x-ray astronomy and is a senior astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Inspired as a child by the 300-foot radio telescope at the National Radio Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, she declared that she would use the telescope one day to look at the stars–and she did.
Working as an intern at Green Bank she discovered a small galaxy. Earning a bachelor’s degree in physics from West Virginia University she went on to the University of Maryland College Park where she was awarded a doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics.
In 1998 she joined Goddard as an astrophysicist serving as Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s Constellation-X mission and helped plan NASA “Space Science Update” press conferences. Weaver spent two years as a program scientist for the Spitzer Space Telescope program at NASA before returning to the space flight center as the Associate Director of Science in the Astrophysics Division. In 2010 she was named a Senior Astrophysicist where her research focuses on x-ray astronomy and using the Chandra X-Ray Telescope to study galaxies and black holes.
Before the first space launched x-ray satellite began collecting data is was thought that the accretion disc around a black hole would have one distinct line of iron circling the astronomical object that would give off x-ray light. But what Weaver discovered was that these lines were much more complicated than scientists had predicted.
These findings have led to an entire new field of study looking at the connections between black holes and star formations in galaxies, connections that Weaver was able to see when others hadn’t been able to bridge the two phenomena. But now hundreds of scientists around the world are studying that relationship.
Part of her work at Goddard has her being something of a spokesperson for the research of the center and she has been featured in programs on PBS and the BBC. Published in over 60 scientific journals she is also the author of The Violent Universe: Joy Rides Through the X-ray Cosmos.
Written by Angela Goad