Research projects

Astro-H (renamed Hitomi after launch) was the sixth in the series of successful Japanese X-ray observatories devoted to the study of energetic processes in celestial objects.  Under development for a 2014 launch by the Japanese space agency JAXA jointly with NASA, the mission was designed to investigate the physics of the high-energy Universe via a suite of four instruments, covering a very wide energy range, from 0.3 keV to 600 keV.  Those instruments included a high-resolution, high-throughput spectrometer…

The Athena (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) satellite, selected by ESA within its Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme, will be the next flagship X-ray astronomy satellite. Athena will study how hot baryons assemble into groups and clusters of galaxies and determine their chemical enrichment across cosmic time. It will study the physics of accretion into compact objects, find the earliest accreting supermassive black holes and trace their growth, showing how they influence the evolution of galaxies and clusters through feedback processes.

The primary goal of BICEP/Keck Array telescopes was to measure the very faint polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The CMB is a nearly perfect, uniform black body at 2.7 K, with degree-scale temperature anisotropy of about 0.1 mK and polarization on the order of microkelvin. This radiation was emitted 380,000 years after the Big Bang, at the time of recombination, when the Universe first became transparent to light.

The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) project is an initiative to build the next generation ground-based very high energy gamma-ray instrument. It will serve as an open observatory to a wide astrophysics community and will provide a deep insight into the non-thermal high-energy universe.

The CO Mapping Array Pathfinder (COMAP) will use the technique of line-intensity mapping to look for molecular gas in star-forming galaxies within several billion years of the Big Bang. The initial phase will trace galaxies at redshift 3 via the CO(1-0) line, using a 19-pixel receiver on a 10 m dish at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory.

On these pages you will find an selection of the wide range of computational challenges tackled by KIPAC researchers. Our mission is to bridge theoretical and experimental physics communities to bring their combined strength to bear on some of the most challenging and fascinating problems in particle astrophysics and cosmology.

Observations of galaxies, galaxy clusters, distant supernovae, and the cosmic microwave background radiation tell us that ~85% of the matter in the universe is comprised of one or more species of dark matter.  With the continuing success of the Standard Model of particle physics, the existence of dark matter provides one of the few tangible sign posts as we seek to understand what lies beyond the Standard Model.  Deciphering the nature of this dark matter would be of fundamental importance to cosmology, astrophysics, and high-energy particle physics.

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is a survey of distant galaxies that aims to unravel the mystery of cosmic acceleration. The DES uses multiple techniques to measure and study dark energy, the putative driving force of cosmic acceleration. Specifically, the DES studies dark energy through its impact on the abundance of galaxy clusters, weak gravitational lensing signals, type Ia supernovae and detections of large-scale correlations between galaxies.  The combination of these various approaches will allow DES scientists to gain a more robust understanding of the current cosmological paradigm.

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (FGST or Fermi) is a space observatory being used to perform gamma-ray astronomy observations from low Earth orbit. Originally called the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, the mission was renamed for the physicist Enrico Fermi after its launch aboard a Delta II 7920-H rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida in  2008. The mission is a joint venture of NASA, the United States Department of Energy and agencies and institutes in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Sweden.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is a large-aperture wide-field, ground-based telescope that will survey half the sky every few nights in six optical bands ranging from 320 to 1050 nm. LSST will produce a data set that will allow us to better evaluate a wide range of pressing questions about the attributes of dark energy and dark matter, the formation of the Milky Way, the properties of small bodies in the solar system, the trajectories of potentially hazardous asteroids and the possible existence of undiscovered explosive phenomena.

In 1933, Fritz Zwicky realized that most of the matter in the Coma galaxy cluster was invisible. This finding launched a decades-long search for dark matter. Observation after observation has confirmed that this mysterious matter must exist and in fact makes up about a quarter of our universe. But we have yet to identify its specific nature.

The development of large-format heterodyne receiver arrays will enable a number of state-of-the-art astrophysical measurements. In particular, we are developing instruments that will conduct spectroscopic mapping of star-forming galactic regions, detection of the cosmic microwave background polarization, and measurements of the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect.

NuSTAR is a satellite-based observatory sensitive in the hard X-ray band covering the energy range of 5-80 keV.  It was developed and built under the auspices of NASA's Explorer program, led by Caltech (PI Fiona Harrison), with involvement of many other institutions including Stanford, JPL, Columbia University, UC Berkeley, NASA-Goddard, McGill, Danish Space Research Institute, MIT, and Yale.  It features several new technologies, including focusing optics with multi-layer coatings (necessary to reflect hard X-rays), a sensitive, pixilated CdZnTe detector camera to enable imaging, and an…

Planck observes the sky in the frequency range from 30 GHz to 857 GHz. The central horizontal band is dust emission from our own galaxy, the Milky Way, with gas and dust emission extending to high galactic latitudes. Away from the galactic plane the red and yellow structure shows the small fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation that was emitted when the universe was 380 000 years old.

The QUIET experiment is designed to search for the imprint of inflation in the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation by measuring so-called "B-mode" patterns of polarization that are expected to be produced by gravitational waves generated during inflation. This signature, which would allow the energy scale of inflation to be determined, is extremely faint, requiring instruments that are sensitive to nanoKelvin differences in radiation temperature.

Observational and theoretical research on the physics of the sun is carried out at Stanford University in several research groups.

The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10 meter diameter telescope operating at the NSF South Pole research station. Designed for conducting large-area millimeter and sub-millimeter wave surveys to map primary and secondary anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background, SPT is the largest telescope ever deployed at the South Pole. As on February 2018, the SPT team is working to bring the 3rd generation `SPT-3G' camera up to full sensitivity.

WFIRST is a proposed infrared space telescope designed to study Dark Energy, our galaxy and to search for planets.  WFIRST was the leading recommended large space-based project in the recent decadal survey, combining elements from the previous Joint Dark Energy Mission with a proposal to search for planets via gravitational lensing and perform infrared surveys. WFIRST is currently scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s, while the LSST 10-year survey is underway. The complementarity of a ground-based survey with a space-based survey presents a compelling opportunity to enhance what we learn…