Astrophysics & Cosmology

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Cosmos Seeded with Heavy Elements During Violent Youth

Traces of iron spread smoothly throughout a massive galaxy cluster tell the 10 billion-year-old story of exploding supernovae and fierce outbursts from supermassive black holes sowing heavy elements throughout the early cosmos.

The Universe Through Fermi's Eyes

On June 11, 2008, what was then the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope rode a Delta II rocket into low-Earth orbit. After two months of tests and checks and calibrations, on August 11, 2008, NASA declared GLAST open for business as astrophysics' premier eye on the gamma-ray sky. Five years, a name change, a near miss with a defunct Soviet spy satellite, and countless surprises later, the spacecraft now known as the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is still going strong, with another five-year mission stretching ahead of it.

SLAC Summer Institute Featured Collaborative Mini-projects

For the 41st annual Particle Physics & Astrophysics Department’s SLAC Summer Institute (SSI), organizers introduced a successful new feature.

In addition to hearing the traditional program of high-level physics lectures and enjoying the social events, the particle physics graduate students formed teams to work on one of four mini-projects during the two-week institute held July 8–19. They reported their findings on the penultimate day.

KIPAC Theorists Weigh In on Where to Hunt Dark Matter

Now that it looks like the hunt for the Higgs boson is over, particles of dark matter are at the top of the physics "Most Wanted" list. Dozens of experiments have been searching for them, but often come up with contradictory results.

Fermi Sees Record Gamma-ray Burst

A record-setting blast of gamma rays from a dying star in a distant galaxy has wowed astronomers around the world. The eruption, which is classified as a gamma-ray burst, or GRB, and designated GRB 130427A, produced light with the highest energy ever measured from such an event.

Proof: Cosmic Rays Come from Exploding Stars

A new study confirms what scientists have long suspected: Cosmic rays – energetic particles that pelt Earth from all directions – are born in the violent aftermath of supernovas, exploding stars throughout the galaxy.

Magnetism Combines with Gravity to Shape Black Hole's Environment

Black holes are the ultimate Bogeyman. With a well-deserved reputation as monstrous destructive machines, black holes owe their power to huge quantities of mass that warp space and time until the gravitational force they command sucks in everything – even light. No surprise that astrophysicists have long considered gravity the dominant player in shaping the accretion disks of dust and gas surrounding black holes.

World's Largest Digital Camera Project Passes Critical Milestone

Menlo Park, Calif. — A 3.2 billion-pixel digital camera designed by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is now one step closer to reality. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope camera, which will capture the widest, fastest and deepest view of the night sky ever observed, has received “Critical Decision 1” approval by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to move into the next stage of the project.