Department News

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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

  • Prof. Margutti receives Breakthrough Prize

    September 9, 2021

    Raffaella Margutti, a newly arrived associate professor of astronomy is one of nine winners of the 2022 New Horizons in Physics Prize, awarded every year to early-career scientists by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.  Congratulations Professor Margutti! Read More

  • Black hole at center of swirling new women-in-science mural

    July 1, 2021

      Professor Chung-Pei Ma contributed to the creation of a mural celebrating women in STEM.  Ma worked with artist/scientist Amanda Phingbodhikpakkiya to depict a black hole in the mural. Read The Full Story Here...  

  • Stellar explosion in 1054 C.E. may have been a third flavor of supernova

    June 29, 2021

    A team of astronomers including UC Berkeley professor Alex Filippenko have found convincing evidence that supernovae come in a third flavor, powered by a long-suspected explosive mechanism that may explain a bright supernova humans observed 1,000 ago and that birthed the beautiful Crab Nebula. The evidence is an exploding star observed in 2018, the first that fits all six criteria for a hypothesized type of supernova called an electron-capture supernova. Read more...

  • Professor Dressing Wins Pierce Prize

    April 15, 2021

    Professor Courtney Dressing has been awarded the 2021 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize for outstanding achievement in Astronomy "for her leading contributions that have dramatically advanced our understanding of the formation rate, composition, and evolution of planets around low-mass M dwarf stars." Congratulations! Read More...

  • How fast is the universe expanding? Galaxies provide one answer.

    March 9, 2021

    Determining how rapidly the universe is expanding is key to understanding our cosmic fate, but with more precise data has come a conundrum: Estimates based on measurements within our local universe don’t agree with extrapolations from the era shortly after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. A new estimate of the local expansion rate — the Hubble constant, or H0 (H-naught) — reinforces that discrepancy. “For measuring distances to galaxies out to 100 megaparsecs, this is a fantastic method,” said cosmologist Chung-Pei Ma, the Judy Chandler Webb Professor in the Physical Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and…

  • UC Berkeley Astronomer to appear on Jeopardy! this week

    February 22, 2021

    UC Berkeley Astronomer Ken Shen will be appearing on Jeopardy! on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. On the experience of his competing in the famous television show, Shen writes: “My greatest fear was that an astronomy or physics clue would show up and I'd flub it.  Luckily, I don't think that happened, but honestly, everything was a blur. If you'd like to know some more about the process and what filming is like, I'll be posting threads on Twitter for the next few days.  The first one is here:”

  • Active volcanoes feed Io’s sulfurous atmosphere

    October 21, 2020

    The atmosphere on Jupiter’s moon Io is a witches’ brew, composed primarily of the sulfurous exhalations of more than 400 volcanoes that dot the surface. Until now, however, it has been unclear whether volcanoes spewing hot sulfur dioxide (SO2) are the main contributors to the atmosphere, or whether the main component is the accumulated cold SO2,much of which is frozen on the surface, but in sunlight evaporates or sublimates into the atmosphere. New observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, led by astronomer Imke de Pater of the University of California, Berkeley, partially resolve that question. Read…