Research Highlights

Jun 22, 2015 | Where are they now? 
 -- An Interview with KIPAC alum Aurelien Bouvier

In the series, "Where are they now?" we check in with KIPAC alumni: where they are now, how they've fared since their days exploring particle astrophysics and cosmology at the Institute, and how their KIPAC experiences have shaped their journeys.

Jun 18, 2015 | Detecting black hole gravitational atoms in the sky (with half-diamonds)

Our world is made up of atoms: i.e. nuclei and electrons held together by electromagnetism. At the same time, though not all particles have electric charge, they all have a gravitational “charge” (i.e. their mass). And gravity is universal and attractive. So it is only natural to ask: why don’t we observe any "atoms" bound by gravity? The answer is that gravity is weak: a small magnet can lift a nail against the gravitational pull of the entire earth. The weakness of gravity means that a gravitational “hydrogen atom” would have a radius larger than the size of the observable universe. Thus to make a gravitational atom, we need to look to places where gravity is strong—like around black holes!

Jun 2, 2015 | Where are they now? 
 -- An Interview with KIPAC alum Chihway Chang

In the series, "Where are they now?" we check in with KIPAC alumni: where they are now, how they've fared since their days exploring particle astrophysics and cosmology at the Institute, and how their KIPAC experiences have shaped their journeys.

May 5, 2015 | A Gamma-ray Pulsar With a Record-breaking Magnetic Field

Fermi's Large Area Telescope has detected gamma-ray pulsations from a radio pulsar with one of the highest magnetic fields known. The object appears to be a missing link between standard pulsars and the more extreme magnetars.

May 5, 2015 | Telltale Modulation In Gamma Rays Implies Orbit

Data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has revealed a new gamma-ray binary, a rare class of object in which a gamma ray source is in orbit around a star.

Artist's conception of an X-ray binary in which a star and a black hole are in orbit around each other. The black hole pulls mass off the star, which interacts in the extreme conditions surrounding the black hole.

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 | The Basics of ASICs for ASTRO-H

KIPAC scientists, in collaboration with international colleagues, are developing a gamma-ray spectrometer for the ASTRO-H satellite, to open a new frontier for investigating the high energy Universe.

Circuit diagram of the ASIC developed for the SGD. The charge is amplified by the charge sensitive amplifier (CSA), two shapers form the shape of the pulse in time, and the ADC digitizes the signal.

May 5, 2015 | A Cosmic Bullet Shoots Extra X-rays

Galaxy clusters are a well known source of X-rays. KIPAC researchers have shown that at least one cluster, the famous 'Bullet' Cluster, has an extra component of X-ray emission detectable beyond the dominant one seen ubiquitously elsewhere.

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 | Modeling Light Enlightens Telescope Design

In a nice marriage of theory and experiment, KIPAC scientists have investigated the effects of small layers of contamination on optical surfaces, which is important in building the super telescope that will probe dark energy.

May 5, 2015 | Fermi LAT studies Cosmic-Ray Interactions in Distant Galaxies

The Fermi LAT has observed, for the first time, gamma-rays produced in cosmic-ray interactions in several neighboring galaxies - and is even able to spatially resolve one of those galaxies. This has given us a unique global view of cosmic ray acceleration, that previous Milky Way studies could not provide.

Gamma-ray emission from the LMC

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.