Research Highlights

May 5, 2015 | Through the Looking Galaxy

A KIPAC researcher uses images of very distant galaxies to learn about somewhat nearer galaxies, through the phenomenon of gravitational lensing.

The right panel shows a background galaxy with the image of the lens galaxy (in the center) removed. A proper model of the mass distribution of the lens galaxy results in the reconstructed shape for the background galaxy in the left panel.

May 5, 2015 | A Flare in the Jet of Pictor A

Long (up to Megaparsec scale), highly collimated jets of magnetized plasma emanating from the active nuclei of galaxies pose many astrophysical puzzles - including the mechanism by which those outflows are accelerated to relativistic velocities, and the structure of the jet magnetic field. Recent high resolution X-ray imaging of the jet in famous radio galaxy Pictor A shows some surprising and unexpected variability.

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 | Movies Of The Universe Produced In Kavliwood

In the KIPAC Visualization Lab - and in major planetariums - visitors can watch three dimensional movie renderings of processes from the history of the Universe. KIPAC scientists use novel computer graphics techniques to produce and display the animations, which are based on the results from computational simulations.

May 5, 2015 | Astronomy and Particle Physics Theory Meet Again in Dark Matter Lines

Gamma-ray observations of the Universe by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have enabled another astrophysical constraint on the properties of particle dark matter.

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope continues to bridge astronomy and particle physics.

May 5, 2015 | Simulations Show How Matter May Get To Where It Matters Around Black Holes

Simulations of accretion flows around black holes, involving General Relativity and relativistic plasma physics, have led to a new model of how extreme particle acceleration is achieved in the hearts of galaxies, gamma-ray bursts, and elsewhere.

May 5, 2015 | One Flavor of Quasar Or Two?

A team of KIPAC astrophysicists has applied a rigorous statistical analysis to observations of quasars resulting in an interesting perspective.

An example of a bias arising from data truncation. In this plot of radio luminosity versus redshift (distance) for quasars detected by a survey, inherently faint objects can only be seen if they are close (low redshift).

May 5, 2015 | Does Galactic Dust Twirl and Shine?

The question of whether we receive microwave radiation from spinning dust grains in our Galaxy has been debated for 15 years. A collaboration including a KIPAC scientist has provided valuable data indicating that the answer is probably yes.

The ARCADE 2 instrument being launched on a high altitude balloon. Getting above the atmosphere is important in an absolute atrophysical microwave measurement.

May 5, 2015 | Fermi Identifies Cosmic Antiparticles in the Shadow of the Earth

Although the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is primarily a gamma-ray instrument, its most cited paper reports a measurement of the combined electron and positron cosmic-ray spectrum. Now a team, led by KIPAC researchers, has built on this result by using a novel technique to separate the cosmic-ray electrons and positrons and measure the spectrum of each component individually. The result will keep theorists busy thinking about pulsars and dark matter.

May 5, 2015 | Let the Sun Shine (In Gamma Rays) II

Unifying the astronomically near and far, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has seen its first signature of cosmic rays interacting with the light from our Sun.

The left panel shows the LAT gamma rays per pixel from near the Sun and the right panel shows the same for another patch of sky. There is a clear large flux from the solar disk and a less dense but extended flux surrounding it.

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 | Simulating Stimulating Bursts of Gamma Rays

Using powerful computer simulations, a KIPAC scientist explores the possible mechanisms behind the gamma-ray emission in the super explosions known as gamma-ray bursts.

Artist's conception of a GRB. We see the burst of gamma rays if the jets are oriented so that one points toward us. (Image courtesy of NASA)