Research Highlights

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.

May 5, 2015 | The Chunky Suburbs of Galaxy Clusters

An analysis of X-ray observations has provided the clearest picture to date of the size, mass, and matter content of a giant cluster of galaxies. The study also provides the first direct evidence that the multi-million-degree gas in the cluster's outskirts is clumped into enormous clouds.

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.

May 5, 2015 | TARGETing the Highest Energy Physics

Some of the highest energy physical processes in the Universe emit powerful gamma-rays that can be detected when they hit our atmosphere with a flash. A group of KIPAC scientists have developed a new electronics chip that can sample 16 different signals at a billion or more times per second, in order to follow the extreme show.

Prototype camera module for the Cherenkov Telescope Array, including a multi-anode photomuliplier tube and TARGET digitzer chips