Department News

  • Planet makes weird loops around dusty star

    January 13, 2013

    "Newly released NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of a vast debris disk encircling the nearby star Fomalhaut and a mysterious planet circling it may provide forensic evidence of a titanic planetary disruption in the system. Astronomers are surprised to find the debris belt is wider than previously known, spanning a section of space from 14 to nearly 20 billion miles from the star. Even more surprisingly, the latest Hubble images have allowed a team of astronomers to calculate the planet follows an unusual elliptical orbit that carries it on a potentially destructive path through the vast dust ring. The planet,…

  • Alex Filippenko Flies with the Blue Angels!

    October 12, 2012

    Faculty member Alex Filippenko took to the skies with the Blue Angels during this years fleet week; in a jet piloted by Navy Lt. Mark Tedrow, Filippenko took the opportunity to film lessons on gravity and force during his flight to enhance his popular Astronomy C10 course. You can find the full article here.

  • Kinematic SZ effect observation highlighted by Physics World

    July 15, 2012

    Nick Hand from the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues at the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) and the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) were named by Physics World as one of the top 10 breakthroughs in 2012 for being the first to detect the large-scale motion of galaxy clusters. The motions of distant galaxy clusters tell us much about how the universe formed and sheds light on the mysterious dark matter and dark energy. Some 40 years ago, the Russian physicists Rashid Sunyaev and Yakov Zel'dovich discovered that this motion could be observed by measuring a slight temperature shift in…

  • Record massive black holes discovered lurking in monster galaxies

    December 5, 2011

    "University of California, Berkeley, astronomers have discovered the largest black holes to date ‑- two monsters with masses equivalent to 10 billion suns that are threatening to consume anything, even light, within a region five times the size of our solar system. These black holes are at the centers of two galaxies more than 300 million light years from Earth, and may be the dark remnants of some of the very bright galaxies, called quasars, that populated the early universe. “In the early universe, there were lots of quasars or active galactic nuclei, and some were expected to be powered…

  • UC Berkeley Physics Professor and Former Berkeley Astronomy Miller Fellow Win Nobel Prize in Physics

    October 4, 2011

    "Saul Perlmutter, who led one of two teams that simultaneously discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe, has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, to be shared with two members of the rival team. Perlmutter, 52, a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a faculty senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), led the Supernova Cosmology Project that, in 1998, discovered that galaxies are receding from one another faster now than they were billions of years ago. He will share the prize with Adam G. Riess, 41, of The Johns Hopkins University and…

  • ‘Supernova of a generation’ discovered by Berkeley scientists

    August 25, 2011

    "A supernova discovered yesterday is closer to Earth — approximately 21 million light-years away — than any other of its kind in a generation. Astronomers believe they caught the supernova within hours of its explosion, a rare feat made possible with a specialized survey telescope and state-of-the-art computational tools. The finding of such a supernova so early and so close has energized the astronomical community as they are scrambling to observe it with as many telescopes as possible, including the Hubble Space Telescope. Joshua Bloom, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, called it “the supernova of…

  • Prof. Quataert wins Noyce Prize for Teaching Excellence

    April 1, 2010

    Professor Eliot Quataert has been awarded the 2010 Noyce Prize. The Donald Sterling Noyce Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching is given annually to a faculty member in the physical sciences who has demonstrated excellence in undergraduate teaching, including curriculum development. Congratulations!

  • Prof. de Pater discusses planetary images obtained with adaptive optics

    November 1, 2009

    After a duration of 10 years, the NSF Science and Technology Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO), held its last official retreat at the UCLA Conference Center at Lake Arrowhead on 5-8 Nov. 2009. UC Berkeley Professor Imke de Pater gave a plenary talk on "10 years of planetary science" within the CfAO. She started by showing some of the earliest images, still plagued by artefacts (e.g., on Uranus), followed by more recent results obtained after the AO system had been optimized. A variety of objects within our Solar System are shown on the introductory slide: Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Titan, Io…

  • AAS Honors Prof. Bloom

    March 1, 2009

    The American Astronomical Society's 2009 Newton Lacey Pierce Prize for 2009 has been awarded to Joshua Bloom, an associate professor of astronomy, for his work in exploring and understanding the nature of gamma-ray burst sources. The prize is given to an astronomer under the age of 36 for outstanding achievement in observational astronomical research based on measurements of radiation from an astro-nomical object. Bloom, who earned his doctorate at Caltech in 2002, joined the Berkeley faculty in 2005. Congratulations!

  • Prof. Filippenko elected to National Academy of Sciences

    March 1, 2009

    Professor Alexei Filippenko has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology. Congratulations, Alex!