Home Page of Slavek Rucinski

Professor Emeritus at the Department of Astronomy

Updated March 2017

I have been retired since July 2009, but I try to continue my research (see below). If you are interested, you may wish to peruse my shortened CV. In short, my professional life spanned between Warsaw, Poland (1965 - 1984) and Toronto, Canada (1984 - now), but with several longer stays in other places: Post-Doc in Gainesville, Florida (1970 - 1971), the Plaskett Fellowship (apparently the first awarded) in the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Victoria, B.C. (1975 - 1977), Max Planck Institute, Munich (1980 - 1982), and the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University (1982 - 1984). In 1997 - 1998, I worked as the Canadian Resident Astronomer at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii. In Toronto, I worked in the Institute for Space and Terrestrial Science (1987 - 1997), while most of the time (1984 - 2009) I was associated with the University of Toronto. In 1999 - 2008, I managed the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) before its closure on July 2, 2008. If you would like to read about me in Polish, here is a Wikipedia article

Research activities

My research has been related mostly to the problem of the angular momentum evolution in binary stars, from the stage of formation to their coalescence. I also worked some time ago on the interstellar polarization, star formation, proto-stellar disks and stellar atmospheres, but most of my work currently is related to binary stars, especially contact binary stars. The last, larger project done at the David Dunlap Observatory using the DDO 1.88m telescope was a systematic spectroscopic survey of bright close binary stars with periods shorter than 1 day. For DDO data and similar work I developed the Broadening Function approach which gives far superior results to the Cross-Correlation Function. The MOST satellite project ended its long and profitable life and I am now very involved in another satellite project BRITE which was also started in Canada. I was the early leader of the Canadian team of the BRITE Canadian Team (see a PDF description) and am now a member of the international committee overseeing BRITE Constellation operations. My other interest are large variable-star databases, particularly those from micro-lensing surveys such as OGLE or MACHO. For more details on my work, please see my publications as listed below.

A successful proposal to the Canadian Space Agency in 1997 (with Dr. Kieran Carroll of Dynacon, Toronto and University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS)) initiated the MOST micro-satellite project. The MOST project has been led by Prof.J.Matthews at the University of British Columbia (see: UTIAS Space Flight Lab, Dynacon in Toronto). The satellite was launched in 2003 and was funded through 2014. It still performs very well, although only through external funding which can be arranged by contacts with the project PI. In addition to ~200 individual target observations lasting typically a few weeks, the satellite observed >2000 secondary targets which remain to be analyzed.

In 2003, prompted by a question of Dr.R.Zee from the UTIAS Space Flight Lab, I initiated a project to develop a very small nano-satellite for astronomy, the "BRIght Target Explorer", or "BRITE". A single BRITE is a cube with side dimensions of 20cm and with a small lens telescope. The goal was to observe variability of at least 300 brightest stars to 3.5 - 4.5 magnitude with accuracy better than 0.1%. Paradoxically, variability of the brightest stars has been relatively poorly known due to difficulties with relative photometry over large angular distances in the sky, in the presence of variable atmospheric extinction and thin clouds. Majority of the brightest stars in the sky are in fact the ones which are intrinsically the most luminous as the range in stellar luminosities easily over-compensates the Euclidian 1/r^2 effect. Thus, the project main targets are massive, luminous stars which are of the highest importance for evolution of the Universe in terms of production and enrichment of the matter in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. BRITE is one ( CanX-3) in a series nano-satellites built at UTIAS.
A PPT presentation from 2005 gives a description of the original idea; for further design features, please consult other pages given there.

The Canadian BRITE's were the last to be funded: The Austrian colleagues have been able to arrange funding for two BRITE satellites in 2009; they were launched in 2013 and 2014. Poland secured funding soon after and added two satellites to form the BRITE constellation; the satellites "Lem" and "Heweliusz" were launched in 2013 and 2014. Since August 2014, the BRITE Constellation consists of 5 satellites with only one Canadian satellite "Toronto"; the second, "Montreal" unfortunately did not separate from its launching rocket. There have been interest from other countries in joining the constellation. For more information about the early history of the BRITE project, read a few documents (PDF format) .

By the decision of the President of Poland in May 2015, I was decorated in September 2015 by the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for my contributions to the BRITE project; "Lem" and "Heweliusz" are the first Polish research satellites.

I have been the member of the Polish Astronomical Society since 1966, of the International Astronomical Union since 1973 and of the Canadian Astronomical Society since 1985. I was the Vice President (2003) and then President (2006) of the International Astronomical Union Commission 42 (Close Binary Stars).


I have been teaching occasionally in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and in the School of Continuing Studies (Life formation in the Universe, extra-solar planets, etc.) soon after retirement, but now my educational activities are limited to supervision of graduate and 4th year undergraduate students at both the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Space Flight Laboratory of UTIAS. Over the recent years, I have had typically one Post-Doctoral collaborator working with me at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics of University of Toronto.

Publications and citations

Currently, as of March 2017, the ADS database shows 429 publications where all publications can be found in various formats.

The statistics based on the ADS data:
- Published papers: 429
- Citations: 9596
- Paper of max citations: 438
- The Hirsch index "h": 51
- Normalized citations (per one author): 4626
- The Hirsch normalized index "h(norm)": 34

Material related to my research (of limited general interest):

How to Contact Me:

The postal address is:
Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
University of Toronto
50 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3H4.

Better than using my UofT postal address, please contact me using my e-mail: rucinski_AT_astro.utoronto.ca
(replace _AT_ by the correct character) because I work mostly at home.

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