Research Highlights

May 5, 2015 | Fermi Shines (High Energy) Light On Supersymmetry

Scientists from KIPAC and the SLAC theory department have demonstrated that astrophysical observations from the Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope can probe the validity of a class of famous particle physics theories known as supersymmetry.

May 5, 2015 | Scientists TCB With Simulated GRBs

By realistically simulating a population of gamma-ray bursts, KIPAC scientists have demonstrated the extent to which these explosions can be mischaracterized when they are far away.

The observed duration of a GRB pulse as a function of distance (redshift) for both an ideal (Without Noise) and a realistic (With Noise) observing instrument. The actual observed duration deviates from the expected duration.

May 5, 2015 | Mystery Object Revealed to be "Black Widow" Pulsar

A KIPAC professor and graduate student have used savvy astronomical detective work to piece together the identity of a previously enigmatic gamma-ray source. The object is a black widow pulsar which is destroying its companion star.

Optical brightness (top 2 panels) and inferred velocity (bottom panel) for the stellar companion to the black widow pulsar. The light blue data points are from the Stanford student telescope.

May 5, 2015 | The Crab Nebula Is Not So Steady

The Crab Nebula is a system with a pulsar and a surrounding ball of material that emits light all across the electromagnetic spectrum. For many years it was thought to be a constant steady source and was used as a calibration reference for telescopes. Now, KIPAC scientists using the Fermi Space telescope have shown that the emission from the Crab in gamma rays varies with time.

May 5, 2015 | Fermi Sees Giant Gamma-Ray 'Bubbles' in the Milky Way

The Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope has seen giant unexpected gamma-ray structures in the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The structures, which protrude above and below the Galactic plane in the center of the Galaxy like two opposing bubbles being blown up, are approximately 50,000 light-years tall.

An all-sky map of gamma-ray emission as seen by the Fermi LAT, showing the Galactic diffuse component and the bubbles.

May 5, 2015 | The Milky Way's Unusual Companions

By most accounts, the Milky Way is a fairly unexceptional galaxy in the Universe at large. However, a team of KIPAC scientists has shown that it has one very unusual feature: its two lesser companions, the Magellanic Clouds.

Images of systems from the SDSS spectroscopic catalog where Milky Way-like hosts have two Magellenic Cloud-like companions

May 5, 2015 | Probing Dark Energy Using Clusters of Galaxies

Of the four established ways to study dark matter astronomically, looking at the evolving properties of galaxy clusters is the most reliant on non-optical observations of our Universe. A KIPAC faculty member has proposed satellite observations for a new era of cluster constraints on dark energy.

May 5, 2015 | Hard X-rays Reveal Powerful Objects Near and Far

Creating the first ever catalog of the entire Galactic plane in hard x-rays, a KIPAC scientist has paved the way for a deeper understanding of the most luminous compact objects in our Galaxy, and of the x-ray emission from other galaxies.

Map of catalogued hard x-ray emitters in the Galactic center region with their significance in signal to noise

May 5, 2015 | BICEP2 Telescope at South Pole Takes First Light in Search for Evidence of Cosmic Inflation.

Cosmic inflation may have imprinted a distinctive pattern, associated with so-called B-Modes, on the polarization pattern of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation on degree angular scales. A team including several KIPAC researchers will be attempting to detect this key signal using the BICEP2 telescope over the next two years, following its "first light" observations of spinning dust in our galaxy this spring.

May 5, 2015 | Studying the Atmosphere On the Way to Probing Dark Energy

Among the many opportunities in the LSST project, it necessitates a new understanding of our own atmosphere. LSST science depends on photometric redshift determination, which in turn depends on accurate measurements of the flux from celestial objects. At wavelengths where our atmosphere glows, this presents a novel challenge.

The LSST filter bands, showing total system throughput

May 5, 2015 | Fermi LAT observes gamma rays from a huge thermonuclear explosion in space

Huge natural thermonuclear explosions, so called stellar novae, are observed in binary systems consisting of a dense compact white dwarf circling a star. The Fermi LAT has for the first time ever detected gamma-ray emission from such an event. This observation indicates particle acceleration in the shock wave produced by the nova explosion to at least GeV energies.

May 5, 2015 | Fermi LAT constrains dark matter in galaxy clusters

Clusters of galaxies are the most massive structures in the universe. Most of the mass in these clusters is considered to be dark matter. The Fermi LAT monitors these clusters for a gamma-ray signal from dark matter annihilation. No such signal has been found yet, but the non-observation starts to constrain a wide range of proposed dark matter models.