Research Highlights

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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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

Apr 30, 2015 | Where have all the magnetic fields disappeared to? -- A new class of blazar flares

For several decades now, astrophysicists have known of the existence of powerful jets of particles and magnetic fields that shoot out at nearly the speed of light (that is, “relativistically”) from the centers of certain “active” galaxies. Scientists have learned that the jets originate in the accretion disks surrounding supermassive black holes at the cores of these galaxies. Relativistic jets are sources of strongly beamed radiation characterized by broad and smooth (or “non-thermal”) spectra, therefore their orientation relative to the observer has dramatic effects on the observed characteristics of the active galaxies. In particular, when one of the jets happens to point towards us, the galaxy in which it originates is called a “blazar”.

Apr 28, 2015 | Flare Activity in the Crab Nebula: the Old Stalwart from 1054 AD Still Hides Some Enigmas


By  Jeff Scargle and Roger Blandford

The Crab Nebula, an old solid and reliable friend -- mostly

Apr 25, 2015 | Effects of Local Universe Underdensity On Cosmological Parameter Extraction or: Keeping “Precision Cosmology” on the Straight and Narrow

By  Radek Wojtak

Cosmologists generally assume that we do not sit at any special place in the Universe when extracting properties about our Universe, such as figuring out its expansion history (for which the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded in 2011).