Departments News

  • New telescope to look for laser pulses from life around other planets

    March 5, 2020

    Are advanced civilizations in our galaxy trying to communicate with us by means of laser blasts? A team of University of California, San Diego, UC Berkeley, Harvard University and California Institute of Technology astronomers are building a pair of fly’s-eye observatories to find out. In early February, the scientists finished installing two prototype telescopes at Lick Observatory near San Jose, California, the first of hundreds of planned telescopes for a project called Panoramic SETI, or PANOSETI, for Pulsed All-sky Near-infrared Optical SETI. Eighty of these one-and-a-half-foot in diameter telescopes will be assembled into a geodesic dome, like the faceted eye…

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  • Berkeley student throws cold water on ‘monster’ black hole discovery

    December 17, 2019

    Sometimes, a blockbuster discovery is just too good to be true. UC Berkeley graduate student astronomer Kareem El-Badry knows that all too well — he just shot one down. El-Badry studies unusual binary star systems in which one of the two stars orbiting each other explodes as a supernova and turns into a black hole. But he was surprised when, on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, Chinese astronomers reported such a system with a black hole that was astoundingly large: 70 times the mass of our sun. Read More

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  • Courtney Dressing awarded 2019 Packard Fellowship

    October 17, 2019

    Courtney Dressing’s ongoing search for planets around other stars has won her a prestigious Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering. Dressing is one of 22 early career scientists and engineers nationwide who will funding over five years to pursue their research. The new fellows were announced this week by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.   

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  • Storms on Jupiter are disturbing the planet’s colorful belts

    August 22, 2019

    Storm clouds rooted deep in Jupiter’s atmosphere are affecting the planet’s white zones and colorful belts, creating disturbances in their flow and even changing their color.

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  • Milky Way’s central black hole puts Einstein’s theories to the test

    July 31, 2019

    University of California astronomers have tested Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity in the crucible of the monstrous black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy and found it rock solid. For now.

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  • Jupiter-like exoplanets found in sweet spot in most planetary systems

    June 12, 2019

    As planets form in the swirling gas and dust around young stars, there seems to be a sweet spot where most of the large, Jupiter-like gas giants congregate, centered around the orbit where Jupiter sits today in our own solar system. The location of this sweet spot is between 3 and 10 times the distance Earth sits from our sun (3-10 astronomical units, or AU). Jupiter is 5.2 AU from our sun. That’s just one of the conclusions of an unprecedented analysis of 300 stars captured by the Gemini Planet Imager, or GPI, a sensitive infrared detector mounted on the 8-meter Gemini South telescope in Chile.

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  • Where do new stars form in galaxies?

    May 24, 2019

    Spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way are studded with cold clouds of hydrogen gas and dust, like chocolate chips in a loaded Toll House cookie. Astronomers have long focused on these so-called molecular clouds, suspecting that they are hotspots for star formation. But are they?

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  • Uros Seljak is one of Eight Berkeley faculty elected to National Academy of Sciences

    April 30, 2019

    In recognition of their outstanding achievements in original research, eight UC Berkeley faculty have been elected members of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the most distinguished scientific organizations in the country. The newly elected researchers include a neuroscientist, two physicists, two cellular biologists, a computer scientist, a chemist and an economist, and bring the total number of living UC Berkeley faculty who are members of the academy to 135.

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  • Astronomy Names Recipients for 2018-2019 Outstanding GSI Awards

    April 22, 2019

    The Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor (OGSI) Award honors UC Berkeley GSIs each year for their outstanding work in the teaching of undergraduates. These OGSI recipients are nominated from within their teaching department.  Criteria includes the following: overall effectiveness as an instructor capacity to promote critical thinking skills in presenting course material utilization of pedagogically effective approaches, for example, collaborative learning, problem-based learning, or community-based learning skills in developing course materials that promote learning, for example, course syllabi, website, essay or exam questions, paper topics command of the subject area ability to motivate students engagement in departmental and campuswide activities that enhance teaching and learning This year's Outstanding GSI recipients are: Philipp Kempski, Casey Lam,  and Nathan Sandford

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  • Professor Eugene Chiang Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Recipient of 2019 Noyce Prize

    April 18, 2019

    Nine UC Berkeley faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a prestigious nonpartisan research center that convenes scholars and leaders in academic, business and government sectors, drawing expertise across disciplines, to address the most complex challenges of our time.

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