Department News

  • 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!

  • AAS Honors Two UCB Astronomy Faculty

    March 1, 2008

    The American Astronomical Society has honored two Astronomy Department faculty with awards for 2008. Professor Eliot Quataert was awarded the Society's 2008 Helen B. Warner Prize "for his contributions to plasma astrophysics and accretion processes, the theory of low luminosity galactic nuclei, and an extraordinary range of other topics in theoretical astrophysics." Professor Imke de Pater shares the 2008 Chambliss Writing Award with Jack Lissauer of NASA/Ames for their book entitled Planetary Astrophysics. The book surveys the entire field of planetary astronomy and "has rapidly become the standard text for teachers of planetary sciences." Congratulations!

  • James Graham Awarded 2007 Noyce Award

    May 1, 2007

      James Graham was honored this month with the Noyce Award which recognizes excellence in undergraduate teaching and curriculum development by a tenure-track faculty member in the physical sciences. He has taught undergraduates at Cal for more than a decade and is well known for his work in the undergraduate optical and infrared laboratory. Lauren Anderson, a junior astronomy major commented on Dr. Graham's teaching style: "In most of my classes, I listen to a lecture, then take an exam," she said. "But Prof. Graham's style of teaching is radically different. His enthusiasm and encouragement of participation creates an environment…

  • Prof. Davis is awarded the Heineman Prize for outstanding work in astrophysics

    January 1, 2007

    Professor Marc Davis has been awarded the 2006 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics by the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Davis officially received the award "for his pioneering work on the large-scale structure of the Universe" at the January 2007 AAS meeting in Seattle, where he also gave a talk. Davis was recognized "for his innovative and influential contributions to observations, simulations and instrumentation, and his outstanding mentoring of students, as examples of outstanding work in the field of astrophysics." Congratulations, Marc!