Research Highlights

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

May 5, 2015 | Giant Black Hole Caught in the Act of Preventing Future Stars

It has long been suspected that the processes at the center of active galaxies prevent the gas from forming stars. Now, for the first time, a KIPAC team has seen that happening before our eyes.

May 5, 2015 | Crab Flares Return For Even More Dramatic Encore

The discovery of gamma-ray flares in the Crab Nebula was rated by Astronomy Magazine as the number two space story of 2011. Now KIPAC scientists report on another, larger, flaring episode, and are beginning to crack the mystery of why this source can be so variable.

Gamma-ray flux from the Crab Nebula as measured by the Fermi-LAT for 14 days in April, 2011.

May 5, 2015 | Blazars Blare Bright But Below Background

The origin of the extragalactic gamma-ray background remains a cosmic and high energy physics enigma as KIPAC scientists have estimated the contribution to it from blazars in two different ways.

Estimate of the total cumulative flux from blazars above a given flux value. The level of the gamma-ray background is shown by the dashed line.

May 5, 2015 | A Cosmic Snapshot With a Possible Double Barrel Active Galaxy

Active galactic nuclei reveal the presence of enormous amounts of matter interacting with a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy. Because galaxies merge over the history of the Universe, we should see the signatures of supermassive black holes merging in some places. An analysis of X-ray observations may have shown just that.

May 5, 2015 | Learning About Dark Matter From Invisible Satellites

Simulations suggest that our Milky Way galaxy has many dark-matter-dominated satellites swarming around it, but without large numbers of stars they are too dim to be seen as satellite galaxies. However, KIPAC astrophysicists using data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope can learn about dark matter by fishing for these dark satellites with gamma rays.