Department of planetary Sciences
Planetary Science Institute
Dr. Hsieh received his PhD in Astronomy in 2007 from the University of Hawaii. Subsequently, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland and a Hubble Fellow back at the University of Hawaii. Before joining PSI in 2014, was an Assistant Research Fellow (faculty) at the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) in Taipei, Taiwan.
Dr. Henry Hsieh's primary interest is investigating the nature of volatile material in the asteroid belt and what it can tell us about the solar system's formation and the origin of terrestrial volatiles. His primary work in this area has been in the study of active asteroids, and more specifically, main-belt comets. Active asteroids are a newly-recognized class of small bodies with asteroid-like orbits (mostly, but not all, within the main asteroid belt) that exhibit comet-like activity that has been attributed to a range of mechanisms for different objects, from sublimation to impacts or rotational disruption. Main-belt comets are the subset of active asteroids for which we believe sublimation to be the primary driver of activity, i.e., as in "classical" comets. Along with his collaborators, he investigates these objects using targeted imaging and spectroscopic observations to physically characterize their nuclei and activity, mining of current and archival survey data to discover more such objects, dust modeling to understand the dust emission behavior for individual objects, dynamical analyses to investigate the long-term dynamical behavior of these objects and search for associations with asteroid families, and thermal modeling to better understand the evolution of the volatile content and active behavior of main-belt comets over time.