Astrophysics

The infant universeAn all-sky picture of the infant universe revealing 13.77 billion-year-old temperature fluctuations (shown as color differences) that correspond to the seeds that grew to become the galaxies. (Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team)

Astrophysics is a branch of astronomy that explores the physical properties of the cosmos and its composition. Astrophysicists study a broad range of topics, from the tiniest particles of matter and the forces that join them together to the grandest of celestial structures. In essence, astrophysics extends the workings of physics and chemistry that we experience directly here on Earth into the vastness of space. It is both an observational and theoretical science. To probe the universe's past, present and future, astrophysicists have built some of the most complex and precise machines in the world, including terrestrial and space-based telescopes tuned to various wavelengths. The continued seeking of new discoveries is constantly pushing the limits of telescope and model-building technology. 

The Search for Dark Matter (Sidebar)

Dec 13, 2012

What is dark matter? We don’t know, but cosmologists, astrophysicists and experimental particle physicists say they are closing in on an answer. Read a short explanation of what scientists consider the leading candidate, as well as the methods being used to detect dark matter.

Are We Closing In On Dark Matter?

Dec 05, 2012

As the search for dark matter intensifies, a colloquium brought together cosmologists, particle physicists and observational astrophysicists --- three fields now united in the hunt to determine what is dark matter.

Discovering Dark Matter: A Conversation with Roger Blandford

Dec 04, 2012
Roger Blanford

KIPAC DIrector Roger Blandford discusses the recent meeting "Dark Matter Universe: On the Threshold of Discovery," which brought together astrophysics, cosmologists and particle physicists about the state of discovering dark matter.

Afterglow: Dispatches from the Birth of the Universe

Oct 31, 2012

Lawrence M. Krauss, John C. Mather, Amber Miller, Lyman Page and David Spergel discuss how the cosmic background radiation is poised to reveal a host of bold questions about the cosmos.

Shining a Light on Dark Galaxies

Oct 05, 2012
The sky around the quasar HE0109-3518

Dark galaxies – galaxies with few if any stars and made predominately of dense gas – have been impossible to detect directly until now. Members of an international team of astronomers discuss their discovery and the place these galaxies hold in the universe.

Spotlight Live: Hubble's eXtreme View

Sep 26, 2012
Cambridge

Pascal Oesch, a Hubble Fellow at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and Michele Trenti of the Kavli Institute of Cosmology, University of Cambridge, discuss the Hubble telescope deepest ever image of the universe.

Phoenix Rising: A Galaxy Cluster That's Breaking Cosmic Records

Aug 13, 2012
Pheonix cluster

On the eve of their NASA press conference, Michael McDonald, Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at MIT, and Bradford Benson, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago, discuss the discovery of the Phoenix Cluster -- a galaxy cluster for the record books.

2012 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics: A Discussion with Michael Brown and David Jewitt

Aug 02, 2012

Two winners of the 2012 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics reflect on the discovery of the Kuiper Belt at the outer edges of the solar system, the excitement of exploring a frontier long thought empty, and what the episode over reclassifying Pluto says about the public’s perception of science.

"Dark Matters" - Incredible Simulations of an Invisible Universe

Jul 06, 2012

At the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, scientists are using massive computer simulations to create 3-D movies that reveal the mysteries of the universe in ways that almost let you reach out and grasp entire galaxies... and from any angle.

Spotlight Live: Nomads of the Galaxy

An artistic rendition of a nomad object wandering the interstellar medium. The object is intentionally blurry to represent uncertainty about whether or not it has an atmosphere. A nomadic object may be an icy body akin to an object found in the outer Solar System, a more rocky material akin to asteroid, or even a gas giant similar in composition to the most massive Solar System planets and exoplanets. (Image by Greg Stewart/SLAC)
May 15, 2012
Stanford

Planets adrift in space may not only be common in the cosmos; in the Milky Way Galaxy alone, their number may be in the quadrillions.  Standford astrophysicist Louis Strigari talks about these nomadic wanderers after a recent research paper that generated attention when it greatly increased the estimate for the number of these planets, renewing speculation about life beyond Earth.

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