Research Highlights

Apr 30, 2013 | Supernovae Tracked In Their Natural Environment

By assembling a large amount of optical data from galaxies which host supernova explosions, a KIPAC graduate student has shown that when it comes to supernovae, location matters.

Color composite images of 6 host galaxies of Type-IIb supernovae. The positions of the supernovae are indicated by white circles.

Apr 25, 2013 | Blazar Evolution With Cosmic Archaeology

One of the many places high energy physics and astrophysics meet is in active galactic nuclei (AGN), where in distant galaxies the interaction of a huge quantity of infalling matter with a monstrous spinning supermassive black hole at the center results in enormous jets of particles and radiation. When the alignment of the AGN happens to be such that a jet is pointed right at us, we observe what we call a blazar, an AGN object with significant emission in gamma rays, the highest energy photons of light.

Apr 20, 2013 | Missing Dark Matter Satellites Still Missing

Around the Milky Way Galaxy orbit nearly two dozen known small satellite galaxies that have wide a range of sizes, all of which are much smaller than the Milky Way itself. Like miniature replicas of their big cousin, these dwarf satellite galaxies are systems of stars where the total mass and gravitational behavior is dominated by a concentration of unseen dark matter. Theoretical simulations on computers and models of dark matter structure formation indicate that these satellite galaxies should indeed form, but with a hitch.

Apr 5, 2013 | Many Eyes On A Gamma-ray Burst

Gamma-ray bursts, or "GRBs," are the most energetic explosions in the Universe. As the name implies, their defining characteristic is a large temporary blast of gamma rays, the highest energy kind of light. GRBs result from the catastrophic collapse of an enormous star, or the merger of two neutron stars or a neutron star and black hole. The details of going from the collapse or merger to the burst of gamma-rays and other light involves physics at some of the highest energies ever seen in the Universe.  

Jan 1, 2013 | Astronomers Capture Cosmic Jet Firing Up

Using X-ray, radio, and gamma-ray observations of a distant galaxy, a multinational team of astrophysicists has seen perhaps the first live instance of the turning on of a powerful jet from a supermassive black hole.

Optical image of the region of the new jet, showing the localization of the jet with Swift's X-ray detection and the radio detection from long distance interferometry. Image courtesy of NASA.