Research Associate; Public Outreach
Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: PhD Max Planck Research School for Astronomy, University of Heidelberg; MS Bowling Green State University; BS American University of Beirut
Research Areas: Galaxy Evolution; Milky Way; RR Lyrae Stars; Globular Clusters; Variable Stars; Galactic Cannibalism
Mohamad Abbas is a research associate and a contributor to the astronomy public outreach program at NYUAD.
Abbas has been working on tracing back the formation history of the Milky Way Galaxy. He hunts old halo variable stars such as RR Lyrae stars and uses them as fossils with the aim of reconstructing the origin of the Milky Way. These stars are used to find signatures of accretion events and mergers in the structure and kinematics of the stellar halo, usually in the form of stellar streams, and to study the Oosterhoff dichotomy. These studies proved that a more in-depth analysis should be placed on the distribution of dark matter in Galaxies. The stars used in his research are selected based on their colors, variability, metallicities, and light curve analysis. For that purpose, he uses data from large sky surveys (i.e., Pan-STARRS, SDSS, Gaia, and others) and other telescopes in an efficient and systematic method.
Abbas also works on finding short and long-period variable stars (LPVs) in Globular Clusters using time-series observations. Observing a globular cluster allows an observer to obtain the color-magnitude diagram (CMD). This helps in improving the models of stellar structure and evolution for stars using observational data and gives us additional constraints on the properties of stellar interiors and evolution.
Moreover, Abbas is the founder of the “The Cosmic Dome” project which organizes numerous public outreach programs that aim at spreading public awareness among the youth about astronomical sciences in the MENA region. He organized hundreds of planetarium shows, stargazing events, astronomy summer schools and camps, astrophotography competitions, and other sorts of events. For instance, he organized a talk with NASA Astronaut Donald Thomas and moderated the session of NASA former director of JPL, Charles Elachi, at the STEP conference.
He has also been delivering a series of public scientific talks, where complex astronomical ideas are explained to the public with on-stage experiments and demonstrations. Abbas was selected to participate in the Astronauts Dubai TV Series which was assessed by Astronaut Chris Hadfield and the head of operations management of UAE astronaut program at MBRSC, Saud Karmustaji.
Prior to joining NYUAD, Abbas was teaching graduate and undergraduate Astronomy and Physics courses at the Lebanese American University, Notre Dame University, and Université Saint-Joseph. He was also the departmental advisor at the Beirut Arab University where he worked on updating the courses offered in the Physics department to implement a new undergraduate degree in Astronomy and was in charge of renovating the BAU observatory and its telescope. He has wide experience in operating different sorts of planetariums, telescopes, and observatories.
Abbas earned his BS in Physics from the American University of Beirut, his MS in Astrophysics from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA; and PhD in Astronomy from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy at Heidelberg University, Germany. Abbas is a member of AAS, IPS, and IAU. He is also a national committee member of the IAU ExoWorlds, “Science Days Festival” and was the student representative of IMPRS and BGSU. He founded the Astronomy Club at AUB in 2009 and received various recognition awards.