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Eric Feigelson

Distinguished Senior Scholar and Professor
Eric D. Feigelson




  1. B.A. Astronomy, Haverford College (1975)
  2. M.A. Ph.D., Astronomy, Harvard University (1978,1980)



Feigelson completed a dissertation at Harvard under Riccardo Giacconi, took a post-doctoral position at MIT in X-ray astronomy. In 2002, he started a faculty position at Penn State where he has remained. Here he has taught all levels of astronomy from Astro 001 to graduate classes. He conducts research in two areas -- X-ray studies of star formation and the cross-disciplinary astrostatistics -- where he wrote seminal papers in the foundation of the subfields and continues to play a leading role.  He has been coappointed as Professor in the Department of Statistics at Penn State, received a University medal for scientific achievement and the title Distinguished Senior Scholar of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

X-ray astronomy

Using the Einstein and ROSAT observatories in the 1980-90s, he discovered high levels of magnetic activity in young solar-type stars, allowing X-ray telescopes to trace pre-main sequence populations. He authored a major review in 1999 on high-energy processes in young stars. The field was propelled forward by NASA's high-resolution Chandra X-ray Observatory. Feigelson and his collaborators conducted the Chandra Orion Ultradeep Project (2005 Special Issue of ApJSuppl), MYStIX project (2013--), and related efforts. This combines X-ray, infrared, and astrometric surveys of massive star forming regions to trace young stellar populations. The work also has implications for meteoritics and planet formation.


Feigelson has collaborated with statisticians at Penn State for nearly 40  years and been involved in the development of the field of astrostatistics. They introduced survival analysis and elucidated linear regression methods for astronomy. Under the auspices of Penn State's Center for Astrostatistics, Feigelson and statistician Prof. G. Jogesh Babu have organized six research conferences entitled Statistical Challenges in Modern Astronomy (1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011, 2021), annual Summer Schools in Statistics for Astronomers (2005--), and authored the award-winning graduate text Modern Statistical Methods for Astronomy with R Applications (2012). He was the inaugural President of the International Astronomical Union Commission on Astroinformatics & Astrostatistics and editor the online Astrostatistics and Astroinformatics Portal.  Since 2016, he serves as the first Statistical Scientific Editor of the American Astronomical Society Journals.   He is now engaged in a statistical approach to exoplanet detection based on parametric autoregressive modeling, and in preparations for the Rubin Observatory optical surveys of the sky.


Selected Publications

are available in full text at the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System


Honors and Awards

  • Visiting Professor, University of Padua, 2019
  • Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, Imperial College London, 2016
  • Outstanding Contributions to Astrostatistics Award, Intl Astrostatistics Assn, 2016
  • Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Physical Sciences, Penn State University, 2014
  • Assn Amer Publishers PROSE Award in Cosmology and Astronomy, 2012
  • UCEA Mid-Atlantic Region University Continuing Education Assn award for exemplary non-credit program development for the Summer School in Statistics for Astronomers III, 2007
  • AAS Bruno Rossi Prize for Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer mission, 2007
  • ISI Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in Space Sciences, 2009
  • NASA GSFC Group Achievement & Teamwork Awards (Swift), 1999-2000
  • Penn State Dept. Dept. Certicate for Distinguished Teaching, 1991
  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1984
  • NASA Group Achievement Award (Einstein), 1980