Department News

  • Brightest stars in the night sky can strip planets to their rocky cores

    August 12, 2022

    University of California, Berkeley, astronomers report a new, Neptune-sized planet around a hot-burning, but short-lived, A-type star and provide a hint about why so few gas giants smaller than Jupiter have been seen around the brightest 1% of stars in our galaxy. Read more...

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  • Heaviest neutron star to date is a ‘black widow’ eating its mate

    July 26, 2022

    A team including UC Berkeley Distinguished Professor of Astronomy Alex Filippenko has measured the mass of the heaviest neutron star to date.   Read more

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  • The ultimate fate of a star shredded by a black hole

    July 12, 2022

    By measuring the polarization of light emitted when a star is spaghettified, UC Berkeley graduate student Kishore Patra and professor Alex Filippenko deduce the shape of the debris cloud left behind. Read more...

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  • Astronomers may have detected a ‘dark’ free-floating black hole

    June 11, 2022

    A team of astronomers led by UC Berkeley graduate student Casey Lam and associate professor Jessica Lu has for the first time discovered what may be a free-floating black hole by observing the brightening of a more distant star as its light was distorted by the object’s strong gravitational field — so-called gravitational microlensing. Read more...

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  • AI reveals unsuspected math underlying search for exoplanets

    May 24, 2022

    UC Berkeley astronomers used AI to find unsuspected connections hidden in the complex mathematics arising from general relativity — in particular, how that theory is applied to finding new planets around other stars. Read more...

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  • Chung-Pei Ma is one of six Berkeley faculty members elected to National Academy of Sciences

    May 4, 2022

    Chung-Pei Ma, the Judy Chandler Webb Professor in Physical Sciences in the departments of astronomy and physics, is one of six Berkeley faculty members elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Congratulations! Read more

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  • Alex Filippenko Awarded the AAS 2022 Education Prize

    February 2, 2022

    Professor Alex Filippenko has been awarded the American Astronomical Society’s 2022 Education Prize "for his passionate and wildly popular teaching of non-science majors; his mentoring of hundreds of teaching assistants and undergraduate research students; his dedication to public education through lectures, TV documentaries, and video courses; his textbook and other popular writings; and his leadership in saving Lick Observatory, a prominent California observatory that faced defunding in 2014." The AAS Education Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the education of the public, students, and/or the next generation of professional astronomers.   Congratulations! Read More...

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  • Berkeley astronomers to put new space telescope through its paces

    January 25, 2022

    NASA’s latest and snazziest satellite, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), launched on Christmas Day, deployed its 21-foot-wide mirror a mere two weeks ago and reached its orbital destination earlier this week. With a flashy new telescope now nearly a reality, astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, are chomping at the bit to start observing. Read more...

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  • Three faculty named 2022 Fellows of American Astronomical Society

    January 5, 2022

    Three UC Berkeley astronomers have been named 2022 Fellows of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), an accolade the society instituted in 2020 to honor members for extraordinary achievement and service. The new fellows are Imke de Pater, now professor emerita of astronomy and of earth and planetary science; Richard Klein, adjunct professor of astronomy; and Chung-Pei Ma, the Judy Chandler Webb Professor in the Physical Sciences and a professor of astronomy and of physics. Read More...

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  • Q&A with Sarafina Nance, a Ph.D. candidate selected for Forbes “30 Under 30”

    December 10, 2021

    UC Berkeley Astronomy graduate student Sarafina Nance was recently selected for the Forbes "30 Under 30") list.  In a Q&A produced by UC Berkeley Letters and Science, Nance shares a bit about her work, her love of the cosmos, and what's next on the horizon.  Congratulations Sarafina!   Read more

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