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The Center for Astrophysics & Space Sciences (CASS) is an interdisciplinary research unit for research and graduate study in astronomy, astrophysics, and space sciences. Areas of specialization include high-energy astrophysics, optical and ultraviolet astronomy, infrared astronomy, radio astronomy, theoretical astrophysics, cosmology, solar physics, space plasma physics, interferometry, and astronomical instrumentation. CASS includes faculty, research staff and students affiliated with UCSD's departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Recent News

Dr. Laurence Peterson
24 March 2014 : Dr. Laurence Peterson writes historical perspective on the early years of High Energy Astrophysics group

Dr. Laurence Peterson, retired head and founder of the High Energy Astrophysics group has written "A Personal Perspective on the Early Years of High Energy Astronomy: from Minnesota to San Diego", which documents the people and events that led to the establishment of the group, as well as the history of discoveries in the earliest days of hard X-ray and gamma ray astronomy in the United States. Read More

Professor Keating
17 March 2014 : Professor Keating and scientists see 'fingerprint' of Big Bang

Professor Brian Keating and scientists at four other universities announced they've found circumstantial evidence of the spark that caused the Big Bang 13.78 billion years ago. Read More

Grad student Jon Kaufman replenishes liquid helium for BICEP2's sensors
17 March 2014 : Professor Keating and other cosmologists report evidence for cosmic inflation

Professor Brian Keating is among the cosmologists in the consortium that reported a detection in curling patterns in the faint glow of the universe's oldest light that appear to be traces left by cosmic inflation, an exponential expansion of the universe thought to have occurred fractions of a second after the Big Bang. The evidence comes from observations made by BICEP2, a telescope that operated at the South Pole for three years, continuously scanning the sky for variations in the cosmic microwave background, or CMB. Read More

10 March 2014 : UCSD-CASS Ph.D student in Physics Darcy Barron: TV hash could signal evidence for the Big Bang

The snow-like hash on an analogue television is caused by background radiation from the Big Bang, the explosion 13.8 billion years ago which led to the formation of the Universe. But the Big Bang and the inflation of the universe which followed is presently just a theory. Darcy Barron's work has the potential to produce evidence which would turn theory into fact. Read More

The Cloudy Cores of Active Galaxies
19 February 2014 : Drs. Alex Markowitz and Mirko Krumpe led team to reveal the cloudy cores of active galaxies using RXTE satellite data

An international team of astronomers, led by scientists Dr. Alex Markowitz, CASS Assistant Research Scientist (also with Karl Remeis Observatory, Germany) and Dr. Mirko Krumpe (with the European Southern Observatory, Germany) has mapped out clouds of gas orbiting distant supermassive black holes using NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer.

The video was the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day for Feb. 24, seen here:

Click on 'Read More' for the NASA Feature web page and video animation by NASA/GSFC and Wolfgang Steffen, UNAM, Mexico. Read More

The late Professor Arthur M. Wolfe
18 February 2014 : Sad News

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Arthur M. Wolfe, distinguished astrophysicist, and Professor Emeritus in Physics at the University of California, San Diego. Art was a true leader in the fields of cosmology (Sachs-Wolfe effect) and extra-galactic astronomy. He was known as the founding father of the Damped Ly-alpha Systems. He influenced the research of hundreds of colleagues with his deep physical insight and was a terrific mentor to young researchers. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and by the entire world of physics and astronomy communities.

Dimitri Basov (Chair, Department of Physics, UCSD)
George M. Fuller (Director of CASS, UCSD)
J Xavier Prochaska (UCO)

Please see UCSD News Center article for additional information. Read More

The three telescopes will be known as the Simons Array
7 February 2014 : Brian Keating and Adrian Lee awarded $4.3 million by
the Simons Foundation

The Simons Foundation has awarded co-investigators Brian Keating and Adrian Lee $4.3 million to build two additional telescopes, and implement improvements to the existing device. Together, the three telescopes will be known as the Simons Array. Keating is a member of CASS and Associate Professor of Physics. Read More

Lunar-ranging laser illuminates a spot of high thin clouds on its way to the surface of the eclipsed moon.
6 February 2014 : Source of 'Moon Curse' Revealed by Eclipse

Tom Murphy, CASS member and Associate Professor of Physics, is among the scientists who have aimed laser beams at suitcase-sized reflectors placed on the moon by Apollo astronauts and unmanned Soviet rovers. By precisely timing the light's return to Earth, Murphy can measure the distance from here to the moon with millimeter precision. Read More

Dr. Kishimoto
31 January 2014 : Chad Kishimoto appointed as Assistant Project Scientist

Chad Kishimoto has been appointed to CASS as an Assistant Project Scientist effective February 1, 2014. Dr. Kishimoto's research is in theoretical astrophysics, neutrino astrophysics, nuclear and particle astrophysics. Prior to his appointment at UCSD, he was a UCLA postdoc and UCSD Physics graduate. Congratulations, Dr. Kishimoto!

Professor Burgasser
30 January 2014 : Adam Burgasser 2013 UCSD EO/AA Diversity Award recipient

The Chancellor of UCSD has announced that Adam Burgasser, Associate Professor of Physics and member of CASS, has been awarded the 2013 Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action and Diversity Award. This award is given to individuals, departments, and organizational units who have made outstanding efforts to further diversity, equal opportunity, and affirmative action at UCSD. We in CASS are very familiar with Adam's extensive outreach/diversity efforts and are grateful for his leadership on these issues. This award was richly deserved. Congratulations Adam.

Galaxy formation hopkins.jpg
22 January 2014 : Galaxies on FIRE: Star feedback results in less massive galaxies

Dusan Keres and collaborators convincingly show that large amount of energy released by individual stars has dramatic consequences for the evolution of galaxies. For a long time astrophysicists attempted to understand why galaxies contain only a small fraction of the material available in the universe. In a new set of realistic supercomputer models of galaxies in our universe called FIRE (The Feedback in Realistic Environments) multi-university collaboration convincingly showed that this lack of cosmic material in galaxies is related to energetic events that closely follow formation of stars. Energy released by individual young stars substantially affects the evolution of galaxies and pushes large quantities of galactic gas into the inter-galactic medium preventing its accumulation in galaxies. (Link to press release from Caltech:
Click here for the ScienceDaily news article: Read More

POLARBEAR telescope
9 January 2014 : New telescopes search for origin of Universe

Two new telescopes will be built to join a single Polarization of Background Radiation (POLARBEAR) telescope located in Chile's high elevation Atacama Desert. The telescopes will be known as the Simons Array and used to probe the skies for extremely faint signatures of inflation. Read More

7 January 2014 : Massive weather systems revealed in a study of the nearest brown dwarfs

Adam Burgasser reported the results of an international monitoring campaign targeting the nearest brown dwarfs, during a press conference at the 223rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Prof. Burgasser's collaboration made spectral and photometric measurements of the Luhman 16AB system, and L dwarf and T dwarf pair, using a dozen telescopes on four continents. The reported measurements, based on just two telescopes, allowed the team to constrain the size and variation of storm cells in mineral and metal clouds in the atmosphere of one of the brown dwarfs, which is only 6.5 light-years from the Sun. Read More


13 November 2013 : RXTE AGN Timing and Spectral Database release

Alex Markowitz, Liz Rivers, and Rick Rothschild released the RXTE AGN Timing and Spectral Database ( -- click on "Read More" below to link to URL) containing light curves and spectral fits to over 100 active galaxies observed by the Rossi X-ray Timing Experiment over its 16 years of observations. Light curves in various X-ray bands and spectral data may be downloaded for immediate use. UCSD analysis of these objects may be found in Rivers et al. 2013 Astrophysical Journal, volume 772, page 114. Read More

5 November 2013 : Kim Griest pioneers new technique in search for primordial black holes; paper is published and "Highlighted" in Physical Review Letters

CASS scientists Professor Kim Griest and Agnieszka Cieplak, Kim's graduate student and now a postdoc at Brookhaven National Lab, have used data from NASA's Kepler planet finder spacecraft to do something that mission was never intended by its designers to do: look for primordial black holes. They did not find any, but they did close an important black hole mass window in which these objects could have been a very significant portion of the dark matter. In doing this study they have pioneered a new technique in the search for primordial black holes. Their work is published in the prestigious journal Physical Review Letters ("New limits on primordial black hole dark matter from an analysis of Kepler source microlensing data", Kim Griest, Agnieszka M. Cieplak, and Matthew J. Lehner) and has been "Highlighted" by the editors of that journal, an honor implying the special significance of this work. Click on 'Read More' for link to synopsis of work. Read More

projected density image
28 October 2013 : Alexei Kritsuk lead author on paper advancing explanation for star formation

CASS Research Scientist Alexei Kritsuk, lead author on a paper published this month in MNRAS entitled "A Supersonic Turbulence Origin of Larson's Law," collaborated with other CASS research team members Michael Norman, Distinguished Professor of Physics and Director of SDSC, and undergraduate researcher Christoph Lee, to provide for the first time an explanation for the origin of three observed correlations between various properties of molecular clouds in the Milky Way galaxy known as Larson's Laws. The team utilized recent observational measurements and data analysis from six supercomputer simulations of the interstellar medium to conclude that there are not three independent Larson laws, but that all three correlations are due to the same underlying physics, i.e., the properties of supersonic turbulence. Read More

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi
22 October 2013 : Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi earns an IPAC Visiting Grad Student Fellowship for 2014

Graduate student Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi has earned an IPAC Visiting Graduate Student Fellowship for 2014. She will be working with Dr. Chris Gelino at Caltech/IPAC for six months, analyzing Hubble Space Telescope images of late-type T and Y dwarfs identified by WISE. Muchas felicidades Daniella! Read More

30 September 2013 : Professor Adam Burgasser to perform in La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls Festival

Prof. Adam Burgasser will be presenting a collaborative work between faculty from Physics, Theatre Arts and Visual Arts at the upcoming La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls Festival, October 3-6, 2013. The piece, entitled "Our Star Will Die Alone", is a participatory, outdoor performance that tracks the lifecycle of a star from formation to white dwarf remnant, integrating stellar data and models with art and music design. Performances are Friday 10/4 and Saturday 10/5 at 10:30pm, and tickets are $15. A free preview will take place on Thursday at 8pm. All performances are on the south patio of Galbraith Hall. Read More

Dr. Carl Melis
4 September 2013 : Carl Melis receives Chancellor's Postdoc Scholar Award

Dr. Carl Melis has been selected as a recipient of the Chancellor's Postdoctoral Scholar Award, 2013-14. The award is based on his outstanding research innovations and productivity, service to the community, and outstanding mentorship. Dr. Melis will be honored and presented his award at the Postdoc Appreciation Luncheon and Award Reception on Friday, September 13, 2013. Congratulations, Carl! Read More

Dr. Carl Melis
1 September 2013 : Carl Melis appointed CASS Assistant Research Scientist

Dr. Carl Melis has been appointed as an Assistant Research Scientist in CASS, effective September 1, 2013. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Melis held an NSF AAPF Fellowship in CASS, preceded by serving as the CASS Postdoctoral Fellow. He received his B.S. in Physics and Mathematics-Applied Sciences at UCSD, and earned his master's and doctoral degrees in Astronomy from UCLA. Congratulations to Carl!

Dr. Arnold
1 July 2013 : Kam Arnold appointed CASS Assistant Research Scientist

We are pleased to announce that Kam Arnold has accepted an appointment in CASS as an Assistant Research Scientist, effective July 1, 2013. Previously, Dr. Arnold held a postdoctoral scholar appointment in CASS. He came to UC San Diego from UC Berkeley, where he received his doctoral degree and also held a postdoctoral scholar appointment. Please welcome Dr. Arnold to CASS!

Keres named Hellman Faculty Fellow 2013-2014
23 May 2013 : Dusan Keres named 2013-2014 Hellman Faculty Fellow

UCSD-CASS Assistant Physics Professor Dusan Keres has been named a Hellman Faculty Fellow for 2013-2014. The award will support Keres' work in building a set of novel supercomputer numerical models of formation of galaxies that include important, but previously unappreciated, physics processes. Results from these models will greatly improve our understanding of the origin and evolution of galaxies such as our own Milky Way. Read More

The late Sally Ride
21 May 2013 : Presidential Medal of Freedom to honor Sally Ride

Sally Ride will be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year, at a ceremony at the White House on November 20th, the Obama administration announced. Read More

Infrared light pours from the galaxy, just a tiny red dot in this  wide-angle view of the sky captured by WISE. Image credit: NASA
3 May 2013 : Extreme Star Formation Reveals a Fleeting Phase of Galactic Evolution - Alison Coil and Aleks Diamond-Stanic Helped Make the Discovery

Astronomers have spotted a galaxy that is igniting new stars faster than ever seen before. Measurements from several instruments show that gas in this galaxy is condensing to form stars close to the maximum rate thought possible. “What is unique about this particular galaxy is that it is forming stars so rapidly with such a tiny supply of gas,” said Aleksandar Diamond-Stanic, a fellow at the University of California’s Southern California Center for Galaxy Evolution who helped make the discovery. A team of nine astrophysicists recently reported the finding in Astrophysical Journal Letters. Read More

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi
26 April 2013 : Grad Student Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi awarded Friends of the International Center scholarship

CASS-Physics Graduate Student Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi has been awarded a Friends of the International Center Graduate Scholarship for 2013-2014. In her application, Daniella describes her personal goal as promoting science and scientific development in her home country of Peru. The Friends of the International Center is a volunteer organization which supports international education, and fosters friendship, understanding, and cooperation within the international community. Scholarships are awarded to students each year to assist in paying their tuition, fees, or expenses related to research towards their PhD degrees. The scholarships are funded equally by the Friends organization and the University of California. Read More

A ship to be named after Sally Ride
18 April 2013 : Navy names new Scripps Research vessel to honor legacy of space explorer Sally Ride

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the nation's newest research vessel will be named R/V Sally Ride, in honor of the former UC San Diego faculty member who was the first American female astronaut and the youngest American to fly in space. The ship is owned by the U.S. Navy, will be operated by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, and will have its home port at the Scripps Nimitz Marine Facility in Point Loma on San Diego Bay. Read More

Fuller receiving award
14 April 2013 : Fuller recipient of Hans A. Bethe Prize

CASS Director and Distinguished Professor of Physics George Fuller was awarded the 2013 Hans A. Bethe Prize on April 14, 2013 at a special award ceremony held during the APS April 2013 meeting in Denver, CO. The prestigious award is given annually by the American Physical Society to "recognize outstanding work in theory, experiment or observation in the areas of astrophysics, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, or closely related fields." The prize, which was established to honor Bethe, a renowned nuclear physicist at Cornell University, consists of $10,000 and a certificate citing the contributions made by the recipient. Read More

Professor Brian Keating
7 March 2013 : Angel Flight West Event Features Volunteer Pilot, Astrophysicist Brian Keating

Angel Flight West attracts aviation enthusiasts to San Diego Air and Space Museum event where AFW volunteer pilot and University of California San Diego professor of astrophysics, Brian G. Keating, PhD, describes and depicts first moments after Big Bang gleaned from South Pole microwave telescopes. Read More

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