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  • richardmitnick 10:07 am on April 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SLAC Kavli   

    From SLAC Today: “New KIPAC Tool Gives Scientists a Closer Look at Merging Galaxies” 

    April 11, 2012
    David Reffkin

    “Scientists at SLAC’s Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) have created sophisticated computer simulations that show galaxy mergers in much more detail than ever before.

    On large cosmic scales, galaxies are the fundamental ‘molecular’ units that occupy much of space. Understanding how they gravitationally interact is an important part of astrophysical research, since they can help explain star formation and other phenomena. Central black holes in some galaxies, for example, create huge jets of energy, a mysterious activity that intrigues researchers.

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    Hubble Space Telescope image of two galaxies merging. This system is known as the ‘Antennae Galaxies’ (NGC 4038-4039). (Image courtesy Hubble Space Telescope)

    Mergers between galaxies are rare. Based on its relatively undisturbed structure, we can estimate that our own Milky Way galaxy has not been part of any major mergers within the last 10 billion years. When they do happen, they can produce some of the most awe-inspiring images from space.”

    See the full article here.

    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science. i1

     
  • richardmitnick 11:21 am on February 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , SLAC Kavli   

    From SLAC Today: “Researchers Say Galaxy May Swarm with ‘Nomad Planets'” 

    February 23, 2012
    No Writer credit

    “For every typical star in our galaxy, there may be up to 100,000 “nomad planets” not tied to any solar system, according to a new study by researchers at the Kavli Institute for Particle Physics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute of Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    If observations confirm the estimate, this new class of celestial objects will impact current theories of planet formation and could change our understanding of the origin and abundance of life.

    ‘If any of these nomad planets are big enough to have a thick atmosphere, they could have trapped enough heat for bacterial life to exist,’ said Louis Strigari, leader of the team that reported the result in a paper submitted to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    A good count, especially of the smaller objects, will have to wait for the next generation of big survey telescopes, especially the space-based Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope and the ground-based Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, both set to begin operation in the early 2020s. ”

    See the full article here.

    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.
    i1

     
  • richardmitnick 11:39 am on February 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SLAC Kavli   

    From SLAC Today: “Hubble Constant Measurements Converging on a Single Value” 

    February 16, 2012
    Mike Ross

    “Scientists attending a conference at SLAC last week say they are getting very close to understanding the fundamental nature of our universe – its size, shape and composition.

    Their growing confidence is based on the fact that many independent measurements of the Hubble Constant, which indicates the size of the universe, appear to be converging with increasing accuracy on a single number.

    Two dozen experts from around the world were invited to the conference, The Hubble Constant: Current and Future Challenges, which was sponsored by the SLAC/Stanford Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC). Participants represented 10 different methods for measuring the Hubble Constant – for instance, the cosmic microwave background (the echoes of the Big Bang beginning of our universe), water masers (microwave lasers) associated with black holes, gravitational lensing by galaxies, and the light profiles of Cepheids (pulsating stars) and supernovae (exploding stars).

    Scientists working in this area are often so focused on their own approach that they seem to be ‘separate churches each with their own priesthoods,’ said KIPAC Director Roger Blandford. As such, last week’s meeting was an ecumenical conclave aimed at hastening the realization of their common goal. Participants discussed each others’ techniques and suggested improvements that could enhance their accuracy.

    ‘Each of the methods now has less than 10 percent uncertainty, Wendy Freedman, director of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution, said at the conference’s summary session. The goal is to reduce each technique’s uncertainty to 1 percent, if possible.”

    See the full article here. Very interesting.

    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.
    i1

     
  • richardmitnick 2:29 pm on November 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , SLAC Kavli   

    From The Kavli Foundation via SLAC Today: “SLAC Scientists Raise Doubts that Finding Confirms Dark Matter” 

    One Promising Puzzle Piece for Confirming Dark Matter Now Seems Unlikely Fit, Researchers Find

    November 28, 2011
    No writer credit

    The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Launched by NASA in June 2008. The $690 million telescope has since been working as advertised, providing scientists with the most complete look yet at gamma rays, the highest energy forms of light. But just two months after the launch, a tantalizing finding from a European experiment hinting at evidence of dark matter had Stefan Funk and Justin Vandenbroucke wondering if the telescope could be used to look at something for which it wasn’t intended — specifically, electrons and their antimatter twins, positrons, that are streaming across the universe in cosmic rays.


    NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope

    Their problem was that the telescope, designed to detect neutral gamma rays, doesn’t have a magnet for separating negatively charged electrons and positively charged positrons. So Funk, Vandenbroucke, and Stanford graduate student Warit Mitthumsiri, all at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University, started looking beyond the experimental hardware. They found a magnet a few hundred miles away from the telescope that might do the trick. It happened to be the Earth itself, which, thanks to its magnetic field, bends the paths of charged particles raining more or less continuously from space. (The spectacular aurora visible at high latitudes is the result of charged particles being bent and funneled toward the poles and impacting the Earth’s atmosphere.)

    To see what eventually occurred, read the original article here.

    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.
    i1

     
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