This is an exciting time in the scientific study of the universe and its constituents. Over thirty years ago, the discovery of the microwave background, quasars and pulsars now interpreted as thermal radiation from the big bang, black holes and neutron stars, respectively, transformed the fields of cosmology and particle astrophysics. Since this time we have learned much and been puzzled by even more. The universe is dominated by two unidentified substances, dubbed dark matter and dark energy, but is otherwise well-measured and mapped. The nuclei of normal galaxies contain black holes with a million to a billion times the mass of the sun. Neutron stars have been discovered with spin frequencies over 600 Hz and magnetic fields up to ~1015 G.
Giant explosions called supernovae and gamma ray bursts as powerful, as ~1018 suns, can be seen right across the universe. Gravitational lenses, which create multiple copies of background galaxies are commonly observed. As there are new and affordable technologies that can still be applied to astronomical exploration and measurement we should be confident that the next thirty years will be as interesting as the last.
Each of these discoveries brought the field of astronomy into closer contact with physics and, today, the study of the very large has joined the study of the very small as a source of fundamental questions. There has been a merging of the disciplines on three fronts.
KIPAC was founded to explore these new fronts and challenges in particle astrophysics and cosmology.