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. 

Searching For The First Stars

Feb 16, 2012

As astronomers detect ever more distant galaxies, they are homing in on some of the first sources of light in the universe. Researchers hope new instruments and observational techniques will reveal how the first stars and galaxies brought the young universe out of its dark ages and into the light.

Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, University of Tokyo

Feb 06, 2012

On February 8th in Japan, the University of Tokyo (Todai) announced that The Kavli Foundation had established an endowment for the university’s Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU). With the endowment, the Institute also became the 16th Kavli institute worldwide – the sixth in astrophysics, third in theoretical physics, and the first to be established in Japan.

A Roundtable Discussion with the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe

Feb 03, 2012
Hitoshi Murayama

At the newest Kavli Institute, solving the biggest mysteries of the cosmos is a "multilingual" enterprise where the research in mathematics, physics and astronomy combine to create a more complete understanding of the universe. A roundtable discussion with the Kavli IPMU's director and deputy directors.

TESS: Searching Closer to Home

Dec 01, 2011
TESS

In the ongoing hunt for planets beyond our own solar system, spacecraft in coming years will focus their telescopes on the nearest stars – those in our immediate neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy. 

Tracking Binary Black Holes

Aug 05, 2011
Binary star

Two scientists from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology have been testing a method to look past the intense radiation pouring out of merging galaxy pairs to see the supermassive black holes at their cores. 

Turning Data Into Wild Rides Through Dark Domes

Jul 27, 2011

From their seats in the Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, visitors swoop through a redwood forest, into a single redwood leaf and finally into an individual cell to watch photosynthesis take place. Then they travel back billions of years to watch the first stars wink on, heat up and explode, scattering into space many of life’s essential chemical elements.

Exoplanets: How the Milky Way is Surprising Scientists

Jul 21, 2011
Exoplanets

Three prominent researchers discuss how recent findings from the Kepler mission are deepening our understanding of planets beyond our solar system, and expanding our view of where life may exist in the Milky Way Galaxy.

The Hunt for Dark Matter in the Universe

Jun 02, 2011
Juan Collar

A dark matter detector about 700 meters below the ground in a Minnesota mine has recorded a seasonal modulation in staggeringly faint electrical pulses – the possible result of dark matter particles called WIMPs that envelope the Milky Way galaxy and collide with atoms in the detector’s germanium crystal. The head of the research team, KICP's Juan Collar, discusses the meaning of the results.

Nano Meets Astro: A Dialogue with MacArthur Recipients Michal Lipson and Nergis Mavalvala

Jan 02, 2011

A conversation with Michal Lipson of Cornell University and Nergis Mavalvala of MIT, 2010 MacArthur Fellowship winners, on the intersections between nanoscience and astrophysics.

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