Michael Shara

Curator and Professor, Department of Astrophysics, Division of Physical Sciences
Professor, Richard Gilder Graduate School



  • Tel Aviv University, Ph.D., 1977
  • University of Toronto, M.Sc., 1973
  • University of Toronto, B.Sc., 1971

Research Interests

Dr. Shara's research interests include the structure and evolution of novae and supernovae; collisions between stars and the remnant descendants of those collisions; and the populations of stars inhabiting star clusters and galaxies. He frequently observes with the Hubble Space Telescope and other large ground-based telescopes. His research team at the museum is currently surveying our Milky Way galaxy for all of its pre-supernova stars and black hole binaries. He also studies the evolution of nova binary stars over billions of years, and has recently shown that metamorphosis occurs between different types of cataclysmic binary stars.


Division of Physical Sciences

Department of Astrophysics

Richard Gilder Graduate School

Beyond Planet Earth


Cosmic Collisions

The Search for Life



Shara, M.M., D. Prialnik, Y. Hillman, and A. Kovetz. 2018. The masses and accretion rates of white dwarfs in classical and recurrent novae. The Astrophysical Journal 860: 110–120.

Shara, M.M., T.F. Doyle, A. Pagnotta, J.T. Garland, T.R. Lauer, D. Zurek, E.A. Baltz, A. Goerl, A. Kovetz, T. Machac, et al. 2018. A Hubble Space Telescope survey for novae in M87 - III. Are novae good standard candles 15 d after maximum brightness? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 474: 1746–1751. 

Shara, M.M., K. Ilkiewicz, J. Mikołajewska, A. Pagnotta, M.F.B ode, L.A. Crause, K. Drozd, J. Faherty, I. Fuentes-Morales, J.E. Grindlay, et al. 2017. Proper-motion age dating of the progeny of Nova Scorpii AD 1437. Nature 548: 558–560.



Mikolajewska, J, M.M. Shara, N. Caldwell, K. Ilkiewicz, and D. Zurek. 2017. A survey of the Local Group of galaxies for symbiotic binary stars. I. First detection of symbiotic stars in M33. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 465: 1699–1710. 

Shara, M.M., S.M. Crawford, D. Vanbeveren, A. Moffat, D. Zurek, and L. Crause. 2016. The spin rates of O stars in WR + O binaries. I. Motivation, methodology and first results from SALT. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 464, 2066–2074.

Shara, M.M., T. Doyle, T.R. Lauer, D. Zurek, E.A. Baltz, A. Kovetz, J.P. Madrid, J. Mikolajewska, J.D. Neill, D. Prialnik, D.L. Welch, and O. Yaron. 2017. A Hubble Space Telescope Survey for Novae in M87. II. Snuffing out the maximum magnitude–rate of decline relation for novae as a non-standard candle, and a prediction of the existence of ultrafast novae. Astrophysical Journal 839: 109–117.

Shara, M.M., T.F. Doyle, T.R. Lauer, D. Zurek, J.D. Neill, J.P. Madrid, J. Mikolajewska, D.L. Welch, and E.A. Baltz. 2016. A Hubble Space Telescope Survey for novae in M87. I. Light and Color Curves, Spatial Distributions, and the Nova Rate Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 227: 1–72.

Shara, M.M., L. Drissen, T. Martin, A. Alarie, and F.R. Stephenson. 2017. When does an old nova become a dwarf nova? Kinematics and age of the nova shell of the dwarf nova AT Cancri. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 465: 739–745.



Hillman, Y., D. Prialnik, A. Kovetz, and M. M. Shara. 2016. Growing white dwarfs to the Chandrasekhar limit: The parameter space of the single degenerate SNIa channel. The Astrophysical Journal 819: 168–178.

Shara, Michael M., J. Mikolajewska, N. Caldwell, K. Ilkiewicz, K. Drozd, and D. Zurek. 2016. The first transition wolf-rayet WN/C star in M31. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 455: 3453–3457.

Shara, M. M., J.R. Hurley, and R. Mardling. 2016. Dynamical interactions make hot Jupiters in open star clusters. The Astrophysical Journal 816: 59–66.





Teaching Experience

Faculty Appointments

  • AMNH Masters of Arts in Teaching Program
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Astronomy, Columbia University, 1999-present
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Astronomy, Columbia University, 1993

Courses Taught

  • Stellar Structure and Evolution, Graduate Course, Columbia University, Fall 2014

Graduate Advisees

  • Graham Kanarek, Columbia University
  • Kathryn Stanonik, Columbia University

Graduate Committees