Stanford UniversityKavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology

Exploring nature in all its scales while seeking answers to fundamental questions about the origin, structure and composition of the cosmos

The Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) is an independent laboratory of Stanford University, endowed by The Kavli Foundation and funded additionally by Stanford and the United States Department of Energy. With spaces both on the Stanford campus, including the Fred Kavli Building, and at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, KIPAC includes more than 130 researchers as members, associates or affiliates.

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Risa Wechsler

Director, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology

Bruce MacIntosh

Deputy Director, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology


  • COSMOLOGY: KIPAC scientists study the largest features of the universe, including galaxy clusters and the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation left over from the Big Bang. It observes galaxy clusters to gain insights into their origin, the evolution of the universe, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy (see below). KIPAC is involved in efforts to measure the polarization in the CMB and to detect patterns that shed light on the very early “inflationary” stage of the universe.
  • HIGH-ENERGY ASTROPHYSICS: KIPAC studies matter in states of extreme compression and energy, such as black holes and pulsars. This is a challenging realm for both theory and observation, where much of the matter is literally invisible and the forces at work may or may not follow the laws that apply elsewhere in the universe.
  • DARK MATTER AND DARK ENERGY: Increasingly accurate observations of the universe have led to estimates of its total mass that greatly exceed the objects we can observe, leading to the conclusion that most matter is “dark” – undetectable by any known means. Astronomers also widely believe that a powerful force (“dark energy”) is working against gravity to spur the universe’s expansion. Drawing on both theoretical and experimental expertise, KIPAC is attempting to detect the particle that makes up the unseen dark matter, and to unlock the mystery of dark energy.

Legacy Survey of Space and Time

The Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) is a planned 10-year survey of the southern sky that will take place at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. KIPAC members have leading roles in project areas, including the observatory, camera, and Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC).
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At Kavli Institutes around the world, scientists explore the frontiers of science in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics.

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