Home Page of Slavek Rucinski

Professor Emeritus at the Department of Astronomy

Updated in December 2022

I have been retired since July 2009, but I try to continue my research to some extent given my current health restrictions. 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). I was associated with the University of Toronto for most of my life after our emigration to Canada in 1984. In 1999 - 2008, I managed the David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) before its closure on July 2, 2008. I retired in 2009. In years 1987 - 1997, I worked in the Institute for Space and Terrestrial Science which was one of the Centres of Excellence of the Province of Ontario and in 1997 - 1998, for 1.5 years, I was the Canadian Resident Astronomer at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii.

A Wikipedia article gives similar information as the current page, but in Polish.

An interview for The Star Formation Newsletter edited by Dr. Bo Reipurth is focused on my work on young stars.

Documents of possibly archival value.

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. I developed the Broadening Function approach for the DDO spectroscopic data and for similar uses; it gives far superior results to the Cross-Correlation Function for de-convolution of complex, rich, strongly rotationally-broadened spectra. The MOST satellite project ended its long and profitable life in 2014 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.

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 may still work, although the progressively diminishing solar-panel efficiency has by now crossed the minimum output threshold. In addition to about 200 individually targeted observations lasting typically a few weeks, the satellite observed over 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 huge range in stellar luminosities easily over-compensates for the Euclidian 1/r^2 effect. Thus, the project main targets are massive, luminous, short-living stars which are of the highest importance for evolution of the Universe in terms of production and enrichment of the matter in elements beyond the cosmologically created 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"; unfortunately, the second satellite, "Montreal" 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 old documents (PDF) .

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 bringing the BRITE project to Poland; the nano-satellites "Lem" and "Heweliusz" have been 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).

The Polish Astronomical Society elected me as one of their Honorary Members in 2019.

Publications and citations

In the middle of December 2022, my publications according to the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) database acquired the following indicators:
- Total number of authored or co-authored publications: 463
- Total number of publications in refereed journals: 330
- Total number of citations: 13,213
- Total number of citations normalized to one author: 5,336
- Index "h": 62

Most of the publications are accessible through the ADS database, although access to the recent ones may be restricted to only through libraries.

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

Contact Me:

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

For contact, please use my e-mail: slavek.rucinski_AT_utoronto.ca
(replace _AT_ by the correct character)

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