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David Chuss, PhD - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

David Chuss, PhD

Professor and Chair of Physics | Villanova University


David Chuss, PhD, has worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and studies astronomical polarimetry and magnetic fields.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Astrophysical Magnetic Fields


Astronomical Polarimetry

Galactic Center

Star Formation


David Chuss develops instrumentation to study the polarization of long wavelength light from astrophysical phenomenon to learn about the universe. He has worked on projects exploring the cosmic microwave background, which is thermal radiation from the beginning of the universe. Most recently, he led a team that developed a new camera for NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy that measures the polarization of radiation from clouds, which unveils the magnetic fields that can affect the star formation process. Prior to coming to Villanova, Chuss worked as an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Education (3)

Northwestern University: Ph.D.

The Pennsylvania State University: M.S.

Villanova University: B.S.

Select Accomplishments (4)

Goddard Exceptional Achievement for Science


Goddard Special Act Award (CLASS)


Goddard Special Act Award (PIPER)


NSF Antarctica Service Medal of the United States of America


Select Media Appearances (4)

The Magnetic Heart of the Milky Way

The New York Times  


About seven stars are born each year in the Milky Way, our home galaxy. They come from dust and to dust they eventually return. Now, a celestial image, an Impressionistic swirl of color in the center of the Milky Way, represents a first step toward understanding the role of those magnetic fields in the cycle of stellar death and rebirth. The image was produced by David Chuss, a physicist at Villanova University and an international team of astronomers. The project is known as FIREPLACE, for Far-InfraRed Polarimetric Large Area CMZ Exploration. The team’s map reveals previously invisible details in a stretch of the central Milky Way 500 light-years wide.

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New Map Reveals Complicated Magnetics of Milky Way’s Inner Core

Forbes  online


An international Villanova University-led team, funded in part by NASA, used the far infrared telescope aboard NASA and the German Aerospace Center’s now decommissioned SOFIA airborne observatory on nine flights in 2020 and 2021. From there, the team took far infrared observations of the galaxy’s dusty inner regions. The galactic center is a unique part of our galaxy, the densities are higher, the velocities are faster, and the magnetic fields there are doing things that we don't see in other regions, says team leader David Chuss, chairman of Villanova University’s physics dept. in Pennsylvania.

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Scientists reveal never-before-seen map of the Milky Way's central engine

Space.com  online


"The center of the Milky Way and most of the space between stars is filled with a lot of dust, and this is important for our galaxy's life cycle," David Chuss, research team leader and a physics professor at Villanova University, told Space.com. "What we looked at was light emitted from these cool dust grains produced by heavy elements forged in stars and dispersed when those stars die and explode."

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Searching for a tiny signal from the very beginning of the universe



The air is thin on Cerro Toco Mountain, high up in the Atacama Desert in Chile, and breathing can be a bit of a challenge. But all is forgotten with a look at the stunning night sky. “It’s incredibly beautiful, there’s very little light pollution at all,” says Villanova University astrophysicist David Chuss. “You can see the Milky Way, it’s a very beautiful experience.”

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Select Academic Articles (4)

On-sky Performance of the CLASS Q-band Telescope

The Astrophysical Journal


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A cryogenic thermal source for detector array characterization

Review of Scientific Instruments


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HAWC+/SOFIA Multiwavelength Polarimetric Observations of OMC-1

Cornell University


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HAWC+, the Far-Infrared Camera and Polarimeter for SOFIA

Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation


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