Links – Related Pages:
Press releases across
the HiPACC Consortium
Computational Astronomy Press by Institution:

 

HiPACC Computational Astronomy Press Room ArchiveUCSC

The Press Room Archive highlights computational astronomy work around the UC-HiPACC consortium; the wording of the short summaries on this page is based on wording in the individual releases or on the summaries on the press release page of the original source. Press releases below appear in reverse chronological order (most recent first); they can also be displayed by UC campus or DOE lab by clicking on the desired venue at the bottom of the left-hand column. This page is the archive. Click for current computational astronomy press releases.

June 30, 2014 — Astrophysicist Douglas Lin wins 2014 Brouwer Award

Lin wins Brouwer Award for dynamical astronomy
Douglas N. C. Lin
UCSC 6/30/2014—Douglas N. C. Lin, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, has been chosen to receive the 2014 Brouwer Award for outstanding contributions to the field of dynamical astronomy. The Brouwer award is bestowed annually by the Division on Dynamical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society. Lin is best known for his pioneering work on the origin and evolution of planetary systems. He has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of astrophysical disks, including protoplanetary disks (the disks of gas and dust from which planets form around stars), the rings of Saturn, spiral disk galaxies, and the accretion rings around black holes that power quasars.

View UCSC Press Release

May 21, 2014 — Astronomer Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz wins fellowship at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz wins Harvard fellowship
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz (Photo by Elena Zhukova)
UCSC 5/21/14 — Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, is among a select group of 50 artists and scholars who will be spending the 2014–2015 academic year as fellows at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. As the Mildred Londa Weisman Fellow, Ramirez-Ruiz will pursue his research in theoretical astrophysics while part of a vibrant multidisciplinary community. The Radcliffe Fellowship Program brings together people from around the world to work on individual projects in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Throughout the year, these scholars, scientists, and artists share their ideas with one another and the public through presentations, lectures, concerts, and exhibitions. Ramirez-Ruiz is developing the conceptual framework needed to understand the violent and capricious nature of the universe. He uses computer simulations to explore transient phenomena such as collisions, mergers, and disruptions of stars, especially those involving compact objects like black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs.

View UCSC Press Release

May 16, 2014 — Astronomer Harland Epps honored by Astronomical Society of the Pacific

ASP honors telescope optics pioneer Harland Epps
Harland Epps
UCSC 5/16/14 — The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has honored Harland Epps, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, with the Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award for important research results based on development of groundbreaking instruments and techniques. Epps is a pioneer of astronomical optics, whose innovative designs allow deep imaging surveys and spectroscopy of very faint targets. His work has influenced almost every major telescope in the world and facilitated the modern explosive growth of data in astronomy. Instruments Epps has designed are currently on the Keck Telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii; the Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT) at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona; the Magellan Telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile; the Gemini Telescopes in Hawaii and Chile; and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the McDonald Observatory in Texas.

View UCSC Press Release

April 7, 2014 — Orbital physics is child’s play with Super Planet Crash

Do this at home: Build/wreck a planetary system
This screenshot from the online game Super Planet Crash shows a six-planet system.
UCSC 4/7/14 — In a new online game Super Planet Crash, players build their own planetary system, putting planets into orbit around a star and racking up points until they add a planet that destabilizes the whole system. The addictive little game is driven by highly sophisticated software code that astronomers use to find exoplanets: planets beyond our solar system. The online release of Super Planet Crash follows the release of the latest version of Systemic Console, a scientific software package used to pull planet discoveries out of the reams of data acquired by telescopes such as the Automated Planet Finder (APF) at the University of California's Lick Observatory. An educational program, Systemic Live, provides simplified tools that students can use to analyze real data.

View UCSC Press Release

March 25, 2014 — Lick’s Automated Planet Finder: First robotic telescope for planet hunters

Lick’s new robotic Automated Planet Finder
The Automated Planet Finder (APF) is the newest telescope at UC's Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton. (Photo by Laurie Hatch)
UCB/UCSC 3/25/14 – Lick Observatory’s newest telescope, the Automated Planet Finder (APF), has been operating robotically night after night on Mt. Hamilton since January, searching nearby stars for Earth-sized planets. Every night the fully autonomous system checks the weather, decides which stars to observe, and moves the telescope from star to star throughout the night, collecting measurements that will reveal the presence of planets (UCSC astronomer Steve Vogt shows how the telescope works in this short video “How To Discover Habitable Planets” ). The APF is not only the first robotic planet-finding facility but also one of the most sensitive.

View UCB,UCSC Press Release

March 19, 2014 — Astrophysics team simulates key supernova phase at unprecedented resolution

Astrophysics team simulates off-center supernova
The color map shows the magnitude of vorticity (the spinning motion of the fluid), with large regions of relatively strong turbulence shown in white/yellow. More at full iSGTW press release.
March 19, 2014 – UCSC/LBNL 3/19/14 - Type Ia supernovae, thermonuclear explosions of compact stars, start their explosion off-center, according to UC Santa Cruz postdoctoral researcher Chris Malone. He and other members of the astrophysics team led by professor Stan Woosley, used computational methods on the Blue Waters supercomputer to follow the evolution of these massive explosions, simulating a turbulent flame in a supernova at unprecedented resolution. Their results appear in the February 2014 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

View UCSC,LBNL Press Release

18 February 2014 — When a black hole shreds a star, a bright flare tells the story


UCSC 2/18/14 — Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz uses computer simulations to explore the universe's most violent events, so when the first detailed observations of a star being ripped apart by a black hole were reported in 2012, he was eager to compare the data with his simulations. He was also skeptical of one of the published conclusions: that the disrupted star was a rare helium star. "I was sure it was a normal hydrogen star and we were just not understanding what's going on," said Ramirez-Ruiz, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. In a paper accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal, Ramirez-Ruiz and his students explain what happens during the disruption of a normal sun-like star by a supermassive black hole, and why observers might fail to see evidence of the hydrogen in the star.


18 February 2014 — UCSC planetary scientist Ian Garrick-Bethell wins Sloan Research Fellowship

Ian Garrick-Bethell wins Sloan Research Fellowship
Ian Garrick-Bethell
UCSC 2/18/14 — The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship to Ian Garrick-Bethell, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz. The prestigious two-year fellowship includes a grant of $50,000 to support Garrick-Bethell's research, which focuses on how the moon developed its distinctive shape and topography. Sloan Research Fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders. Garrick-Bethell's research has developed several new approaches to understand the moon's shape in the context of the effects of Earth tides early in the moon's history. He has also quantified how the moon's orientation to the Earth has changed since its formation.

Read full UCSC press release

January 19, 2014 — Distant quasar illuminates a filament of the cosmic web

Distant quasar illuminates filament of cosmic web
This deep image shows the nebula (cyan) extending across 2 million light-years that was discovered around the bright quasar UM287. (Image: S. Cantalupo, UCSC)
UC Santa Cruz — Computer simulations suggest that matter in the universe is distributed in a “cosmic web” of filaments. Until now, these filaments have never been seen. Using the 10-meter Keck I Telescope at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, however, UC Santa Cruz researchers detected a very large, luminous nebula of diffuse hydrogen gas extending about 2 million light-years across intergalactic space—equivalent to the distance between our Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy— revealing part of the network of filaments thought to connect galaxies in a cosmic web.

Read full UCSC press release

January 15, 2014 — Astrophysicist Piero Madau wins Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics

Astrophysicist Piero Madau wins Heineman Prize
Piero Madau (Photo: C. Lagattuta)
UC Santa Cruz — Piero Madau, distinguished professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been chosen to receive the 2014 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics, awarded jointly by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) to recognize outstanding work in astrophysics. The prize honors Madau “for fundamental contributions to our understanding of the era of first light in the universe, the ionization and heating of the intergalactic medium, and the formation and evolution of galaxies.”

Read full UCSC press release

January 7, 2014 — World's most powerful exoplanet camera looks skyward. Third of 3 releases about GPI.

Gemini Planet Imager. Third of 3 releases.
The Gemini Planet Imager's first light image of Beta Pictoris b, a planet orbiting the star Beta Pictoris. (Image credit: Processing by Christian Marois, NRC Canada)
UC Santa Cruz — After nearly a decade of development at UC Santa Cruz and partner institutions, the world's most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds. The instrument, called the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), was designed, built, and optimized for imaging faint planets next to bright stars, probing their atmospheres, and studying dusty disks around young stars.

Read full UCSC press release

January 7, 2014 — UCSC astronomers discover ultra-bright young galaxies

UCSC astronomers discover ultra-bright galaxies
Circled in this deep image are four extremely compact and bright galaxies so distant they are seen as they existed just 500 million years after the big bang.
UC Santa Cruz — An international team led by astronomers at UC Santa Cruz has discovered and characterized four surprisingly bright galaxies that are among the earliest and most distant galaxies ever observed. Based on image data gathered by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope, the results show the galaxies as they appeared more than 13 billion years ago, just 500 million years after the big bang. The galaxies are about 10 to 20 times more luminous than anything seen previously at this distance.

View full UCSC press release

December 10, 2013 — Astrophysicists launch ambitious assessment of galaxy formation simulations

AGORA: simulated galaxy evolution vs. reality
Inconsistencies in supercomputer simulations to be compared in the AGORA project are clearly evident in this test galaxy produced by each of nine different versions of participating codes using the same astrophysics and starting with the same initial conditions.
UC Santa Cruz — Getting high-resolution computer simulations to produce realistic-looking galaxies has been a challenge and different codes (simulation programs) produce inconsistent results. Now, an international collaboration led by astrophysicists at UC Santa Cruz, aims to resolve these issues through an ambitious multi-year project named AGORA (Assembling Galaxies of Resolved Anatomy). AGORA will run direct comparisons of different codes using a common set of initial conditions and astrophysical assumptions.

View full UCSC press release.

October 17, 2013 — Astronomers find most distant gravitational lens

Astronomers find most distant gravitational lens
The quadruple gravitational lens J1000+0221 is the most distant strong galaxy lens discovered to date.
University of California, Santa Cruz astronomers have found the most distant gravitational lens yet—a galaxy that, as predicted by Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, deflects and intensifies the light of an even more distant object. The lensing mass is so distant that the light, after having been deflected, has traveled 9.4 billion years to reach us (the total age of the universe is 13.8 billion years). This is the second star-bursting dwarf galaxy found to be lensed. If such galaxies are much more common than previously thought, astronomers may be forced to rethink their models of galaxy evolution.

view full UCSC Press Release

October 17, 2013 — UCSC astrophysicist Charlie Conroy wins prestigious Packard Fellowship

UCSC astrophysicist Charlie Conroy wins prestigiou
Charlie Conroy (Photo by C. Lagattuta)
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has awarded a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering to Charlie Conroy, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

view full UCSC Press Release

October 2, 2013 — Astronomers observe distant galaxy powered by primordial cosmic fuel

Astronomers observe distant galaxy powered by prim
This image, an artist's impression based on a cosmological numerical simulation, shows a galaxy (center) with incoming cold gas flows, one of which is illuminated from behind by a distant quasar (lower left).
University of California, Santa Cruz astronomers have detected cold streams of primordial hydrogen, vestigial matter left over from the big bang, fueling a distant star-forming galaxy in the early universe. Profuse flows of gas onto galaxies are believed to be crucial for explaining an era 10 billion years ago, when galaxies were copiously forming stars.

view full UCSC Press Release

September 30, 2013 — Astronomers find patchy clouds on exotic world

Astronomers find patchy clouds on exotic world
The cloud map of Kepler-7b shows that clouds cover the western side of the gaseous planet, leaving the east cloud-free.
Astronomers using data from NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes have created the first cloud map of a planet beyond our solar system, a sizzling, Jupiter-like world known as Kepler-7b. “These clouds may well be composed of rock and iron, since the planet is over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Jonathan Fortney, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and member of the Kepler science team.

view full UCSC Press Release

August 28, 2013 — New Cassini data from Titan indicate a rigid, weathered ice shell

New Cassini data from Titan indicate a rigid, weat
Cassini captured this image of Saturn with it's largest moon, Titan, in the foreground on August 29, 2012.
An analysis of gravity and topography data from Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has revealed unexpected features of the moon's outer ice shell. The best explanation for the findings, the authors said, is that Titan's ice shell is rigid and that relatively small topographic features on the surface are associated with large roots extending into the underlying ocean.

view full UCSC Press Release

August 21, 2013 — SCIPP director Steve Ritz helped ensure Fermi mission's scientific bounty

SCIPP director Steve Ritz helped ensure Fermi miss
Steven Ritz, professor of physics and director of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics
As project scientist for NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, Steven Ritz—professor of physics and director of the Stanta Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP)—had responsibility for scientific success of the mission, now entering its sixth year. Since its launch in June 2008, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has opened a new window on the high-energy universe, giving astrophysicists an unprecedented ability to study the exotic cosmic phenomena that emit gamma rays, the most energetic form of radiation.

view full UCSC Press Release

August 6, 2013 — Royal Astronomical Society honors astronomer Sandra Faber

Royal Astronomical Society honors astronomer Sandr
Sandra Faber
The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) has awarded astronomer Sandra Faber an Honorary Fellowship of the RAS. Faber, a University Professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and interim director of UC Observatories, was recognized "for her extraordinary leadership in observational cosmology and galaxy formation, and for her community leadership."

view full UCSC Press Release

July 31, 2013 — UCSC acquires powerful new astrophysics supercomputer system

UCSC acquires powerful new astrophysics supercompu
The Hyades astrophysics computer system, seen from the front (left) and back (right).
State-of-the-art computer systems have been instrumental in making UC Santa Cruz one of the world’s leading centers for computational astrophysics and planetary science. A new NSF-funded 'Hyades' supercomputer recently installed on campus provides an order of magnitude improvement in the ability of researchers to address fundamental questions in cosmology and astrophysics. Its value is further enhanced by a Huawei UDS petabyte storage system for data archiving and sharing the results of astrophysical simulations.

view full UCSC Press Release

July 29, 2013 — Scientific authorities sign TMT master agreement

Scientific authorities sign TMT master agreement
Scientific authorities of the TMT partners signed the master agreement at a meeting in Hawaii.
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project announced on Thursday, July 25, that all of the scientific authorities of the TMT partners have signed a master agreement, which establishes a formal relationship among the international parties defining the project goals, establishing a governance structure and defining member party rights, obligations and benefits.

view full UCSC Press Release

June 25, 2013 — Astronomers detect three planets in habitable zone of nearby star

Astronomers detect three planets in habitable zone
UCSC astronomer Steve Vogt (foreground) with collaborator Paul Butler at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
Analysis of new and archived observations of a well-studied star known as Gliese 667C have revealed a system with at least six planets, including a record-breaking three super-Earths orbiting in the star's "habitable zone" where liquid water could exist on the planets. This is the first planetary system found to have a fully packed habitable zone.

view full UCSC Press Release

May 31, 2013 — Congressman Farr honors Sandy Faber at Senate meeting

Congressman Farr honors Sandy Faber at Senate meet
Campus Provost Alison Galloway and Chancellor George Blumenthal, both at left, join Faber and Farr to honor the moment.
U.S. Congressman Sam Farr paid a surprise visit to the May 29 meeting of UCSC's Academic Senate in order to pay tribute to astronomer Sandra Faber, a University Professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and interim director of UC Observatories.

view full UCSC Press Release

April 29, 2013 — Astrophysics internships bring community college students to UCSC

Astrophysics internships bring community college s
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz
Funded by the National Science Foundation, an expanded new Lamat Summer Research Program on High-Performance Computing in Astrophysics trains regional talented community college students in a broad array of valuable scientific skills.

view full UCSC Press Release

April 18, 2013 — Distant blazar is a high-energy astrophysics puzzle

Distant blazar is a high-energy astrophysics puzzl
Artist's concept of the Hubble Space Telescope viewing ultraviolet light from the jet of the active galactic nucleus of PKS 1424+240. Clouds of hydrogen gas along the line of sight absorb the light at known frequencies, allowing the redshift and distance of each cloud to be determined.
Blazars are the brightest of active galactic nuclei. Blazar PKS 1424+240 is the most distant known source of very high-energy gamma rays, but a team of astronomers (including ones from UC Santa Cruz and Berkeley) observe that its emission spectrum is highly unusual—perhaps indicating something new about the emission mechanisms of blazars, the extragalactic background light, or the propagation of gamma ray photons over vast distances.

view full UCSC Press Release

March 27, 2013 — UCSC and industry partners launch center for data storage research

UCSC and industry partners launch center for data
Ethan Miller, director of the Center for Research in Storage Systems at UCSC
Researchers in the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz are partnering with leaders in the data storage industry to establish the Center for Research in Storage Systems (CRSS), a new Industry/University Cooperative Research Center supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), to address the growing challenges of storing and managing massive amounts of electronic data. CRSS will conduct research in storage systems to enable not only the construction of large-scale data centers, but also the development of tools to manage the vast amounts of data necessary to make exascale computing a reality.

view full UCSC Press Release

February 21, 2013 — Stellar motions in outer halo shed new light on Milky Way evolution

Stellar motions in outer halo shed new light on Mi
This illustration shows the disk of our Milky Way galaxy surrounded by a faint, extended halo of old stars. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the nearby Andromeda galaxy identified a dozen foreground stars in the Milky Way halo and measured their sideways motions. Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)
Peering deep into the vast stellar halo that envelops our Milky Way galaxy, astronomers have uncovered tantalizing evidence for the possible existence of a shell of stars that is a relic of the Milky Way's past cannibalism of other galaxies. Led by Alis Deason at UC Santa Cruz and published in the March 4 issue of The Astrophysical Journal, the team used data from the Hubble Space Telescope archives and from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to measure precisely, for the first time ever, the sideways (tangential) motions of a small sample of stars located far from the Milky Way’s center. Their unusual lateral motion is circumstantial evidence that the stars may be the remnants of a shredded galaxy that was gravitationally ripped apart by the Milky Way billions of years ago.

view full UCSC Press Release

January 23, 2013 — Astronomer Mark Krumholz awarded AAS Warner Prize

Astronomer Mark Krumholz awarded AAS Warner Prize
Mark Krumholz, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics. (Photo by J. MacKenzie)
Krumholz, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics, studies the formation of massive stars, the structure and evolution of molecular clouds in space, and processes that regulate star formation in galaxies using a mix of numerical and analytic techniques. The citation accompanying the prize recognizes Krumholz "for major theoretical contributions in the areas of massive star formation and the interstellar medium, both in the galaxy and in the early universe." The Warner Prize is awarded annually for a significant contribution to observational or theoretical astronomy by an early-career scientist.

view full UCSC Press Release

December 18, 2012 — Closest single star like our Sun may have a habitable planet

Possible habitable planet
An artist's impression of the Tau Ceti system. (Image by J. Pinfield for the RoPACS network at the University of Hertfordshire, 2012)
By Tim Stephens

An international team of astronomers has discovered that Tau Ceti, one of the closest and most Sun-like stars, may host five planets, including one in the star's habitable zone.

At a distance of twelve light years from Earth and visible to the naked eye in the evening sky, Tau Ceti is the closest single star that has the same spectral classification as our Sun. Its five planets are estimated to have masses between two and six times the mass of the Earth, making it the lowest-mass planetary system yet detected. One of the planets lies in the habitable zone of the star and has a mass around five times that of Earth, making it the smallest planet found to be orbiting in the habitable zone of any Sun-like star.

view full UCSC Press Release

December 17, 2012 — Top physicists gather at UCSC to honor Michael Dine and Howard Haber

Honoring Michael Dine and Howard Haber
Physicists Michael Dine (left) and Howard Haber on the UCSC campus.
Top physicists from around the world will gather at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in January for a symposium in honor of two eminent theoretical physicists on the UCSC faculty: Michael Dine, distinguished professor and chair of the Physics Department, and Howard Haber, professor of physics.

Dine and Haber, who are being honored on the occasion of their 60th birthdays, are both well known for their contributions to the field of theoretical high-energy physics. The symposium, "The Search for Fundamental Physics: Higgs Bosons and Supersymmetry," will take place January 4 to 6, 2013.

view full UCSC Press Release

November 29, 2012 — Physicist Robert Johnson elected Fellow of American Physical Society

Physicist Robert Johnson elected Fellow of America
Robert Johnson
By Tim Stephens

Robert Johnson, professor of physics at UC Santa Cruz, has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in recognition of his exceptional contributions to physics.

Johnson works in the areas of experimental particle physics and high-energy astrophysics and is associate director of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP). The APS citation recognizes him "for his leadership of the design and implementation of the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) Tracker." The LAT is the primary instrument on NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Johnson led a SCIPP team that spent nearly 16 years working on the gamma-ray detecting system for the LAT. Since the launch of Fermi in 2008, his group has been involved in analyzing data from the instrument.

view full UCSC Press Release

October 19, 2012 — Astronomers uncover a surprising trend in galaxy evolution

Astronomers uncover a surprising trend in galaxy e
Image credit: NASA/HST
By Tim Stephens

A comprehensive study of hundreds of galaxies observed by the Keck telescopes in Hawaii and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revealed an unexpected pattern of change that extends back 8 billion years, or more than half the age of the universe.

"Astronomers thought disk galaxies in the nearby universe had settled into their present form by about 8 billion years ago, with little additional development since," said Susan Kassin, an astronomer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the study's lead researcher. "The trend we've observed instead shows the opposite, that galaxies were steadily changing over this time period."


view full UCSC Press Release

October 18, 2012 — Violent Origin of Saturn's Oddball Moons Explained

Origin of Saturn's Moons
Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus hangs below the gas giant’s rings while Titan lurks in the background, in this new image taken by the Cassini spacecraft on March 12, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
by SPACE.com Staff

Saturn's icy medium-size moons were born when a few much bigger satellites collided to form the ringed planet's huge moon Titan, a new study suggests.

The Saturn system started out with a family of several relatively large moons like the Galilean satellites of Jupiter (Ganymede, Europa, Callisto and Io), according to the new theory. But things changed with a few dramatic moon mergers, which created the Titan we know today and shed enough material to form satellites such as Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea and Iapetus, researchers said.

"We think that the giant planets got their satellites kind of like the sun got its planets, growing like miniature solar systems and ending with a stage of final collisions," lead author Erik Asphaug, of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said in a statement...

view full SPACE.com article
view full UCSC Press Release

October 17, 2012 — Giant impact scenario may explain the unusual moons of Saturn

Giant impact scenario may explain the unusual moon
Saturn's baffling diversity of moons includes, clockwise from Titan (upper right), Iapetus, Hyperion, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, and Mimas, with Rhea in the center. (Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI; montage by E. Lakdawalla)
By Tim Stephens

Among the oddities of the outer solar system are the middle-sized moons of Saturn, a half-dozen icy bodies dwarfed by Saturn's massive moon Titan. According to a new model for the origin of the Saturn system, these middle-sized moons were spawned during giant impacts in which several major satellites merged to form Titan.

Erik Asphaug, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will present this new hypothesis October 19 at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Reno, Nevada. Asphaug and his coauthor, Andreas Reufer of the University of Bern, Switzerland, also describe their model in detail in a paper to be published in Icarus (in press).

view full UCSC Press Release

October 12, 2012 — Mapping the Sky

Mapping the Sky
UCSC Professor of Astronomy Connie Rockosi, a member of the multi-institutional team that built the digital scanning camera for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. (Photo courtesy Fermilab Visual Media Services)
By Dana Mackenzie

On Friday nights,while her high school classmates were going to parties, Connie Rockosi enjoyed a different kind of celebration: star parties at her local astronomy club in Cranford, New Jersey.

One night, she saw a star disappear as it passed behind the rings of Saturn and then wink at her through a gap in the rings. Even if she couldn't see the gap directly, the reappearance of the star proved that it was there.

"It was a neat experience," she says. "It's the kind of detective work that we have to do as astronomers, because we can't go out and poke at the things we observe. We have to tell a story based on very limited and indirect observations. This was my first taste of what it's like to do science."

view full UCSC Press Release

September 25, 2012 — Hubble produces deepest ever view of the universe

Deepest view of the Universe
A wide variety of distant galaxies can be seen in this section of the eXtreme Deep Field (XDF). See video below. (Credit: NASA; ESA; G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, UC Santa Cruz; R. Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team)
By Ray Villard, STScI

Like photographers assembling a portfolio of best shots, astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of mankind's deepest-ever view of the universe.

Called the eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, the photo was assembled by a team led by Garth Illingworth, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. The image combines 10 years of Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken of a patch of sky at the center of the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The size of the XDF on the sky is a small fraction of the angular diameter of the full moon...

view full UCSC Press Release

August 30, 2012 — Celebrating astronomical success at UC Santa Cruz

"The 2012 Founders Celebration is a time to recognize extraordinary individuals and their outstanding contributions.

During this year's celebration, two major events—the Foundation Forum, featuring Martin Rees, United Kingdom's Astronomer Royal, and the 12th annual Sidhartha Maitra Memorial Lecture, featuring Sandra Faber, University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics professor at UCSC, will put astronomy studies in the spotlight.

UC Santa Cruz is the perfect place to host these high-profile events, considering its eminent status in this field. UCSC is one of the world's leading centers for both observational and theoretical research in astronomy and astrophysics.

Areas of special interest at UCSC include the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies, planet formation and extrasolar planets, cosmology (the origin and evolution of the universe), high-energy astrophysics, black holes, supernovae, and all aspects of observational optical and infrared astronomy..."

view full UCSC Press Release

July 11, 2012 — Dark galaxies of the early universe spotted for the first time

Dark galaxies spotted
This deep image shows the region of the sky around the quasar HE0109-3518 (labeled with a red circle near the centre of the image). The energetic radiation of the quasar makes dark galaxies glow. The faint images of the glow from 12 dark galaxies are labeled with blue circles. Image credit: ESO, Digitized Sky Survey 2, and S. Cantalupo (UCSC)
by Richard Hook, ESO

"For the first time, dark galaxies--an early phase of galaxy formation, predicted by theory but unobserved until now--may have been spotted. These objects are essentially gas-rich galaxies without stars. An international team has reported the possible detection of these elusive objects by observing them glowing as they are illuminated by a quasar. The team published their results in a paper in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

"After several years of attempts to detect fluorescent emission from dark galaxies, our results demonstrate the potential of our method to discover and study these fascinating and previously invisible objects," said lead author Sebastiano Cantalupo, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Cruz..."

view full UCSC Press Release

June 13, 2012 — Astronomer Jerry Nelson receives Franklin Medal in campus ceremony

Nelson receives Franklin Medal
Jerry Nelson at the award ceremony in his honor. (Photos by E. Arvizu)
by Tim Stephens

Astronomer Jerry Nelson received the Franklin Institute's 2012 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering in a ceremony at UC Santa Cruz on Friday, June 8.

The Franklin Institute Awards are among the oldest and most prestigious comprehensive science awards in the world. Frederic Bertley, vice president for science and innovation at the Franklin Institute, traveled to UC Santa Cruz to present Nelson's medal to him in person. Nelson, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC, was unable to travel to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia for an awards ceremony and related events in April.

UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal and astronomer Sandra Faber both shared memories of working with Nelson over the years in remarks before a large crowd of astronomy faculty and students at the Center for Adaptive Optics. Faber, winner of the Franklin Institute's 2009 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science, joked that the institute "once again has shown excellent taste in choosing award winners."


http://news.ucsc.edu/2012/06/nelson-medal.html

June 01, 2012 — Astronomer Sandra Faber receives prestigious Bruce Gold Medal

Faber receives Bruce Gold Meda
UCSC astronomer Sandra Faber (center) received the 2012 Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal from William Gutsch (left), board president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and ASP executive director James Manning (right). Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta.
Astronomical Society of the Pacific honors Faber for lifetime achievement in research

By Tim Stephens

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), one of the oldest and most respected astronomy societies in the United States, has awarded the 2012 Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal to Sandra Faber, University Professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. The award recognizes Faber for her lifetime achievements in astronomical research.

ASP executive director James Manning and ASP board president William Gutsch came to UC Santa Cruz on Thursday, May 31, to present the medal to Faber in a ceremony at the Center for Adaptive Optics. "Professor Faber has influenced observational cosmology in extraordinary ways over the past 30 years," Manning said. "We are very pleased to recognize her achievements and hope that her remarkable career serves to inspire those who wish to explore and seek greater understanding of our world and the worlds around us."...

view full UCSC Press Release

May 31, 2012 — Milky Way destined for head-on collision with Andromeda galaxy

Milky-Andromeda collision
The night sky 4 billion years from now would look something like this as the Andromeda galaxy begins to collide and merge with the Milky Way. The image is based on dynamical computer modeling of the future collision between the two galaxies. Illustration Credit: NASA, ESA, Z. Levay (STScI), and O. Mellinger.
By Tim Stephens

Our galactic neighbor the Andromeda galaxy is on a collision course with our own Milky Way galaxy, according to new observations by a team of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Also called M31, the Andromeda galaxy is the closest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way and the largest in the local group of galaxies.

Painstaking measurements of its motion show that it will collide with the Milky Way about 4 billion years from now. M31 is now 2.5 million light-years away, but inexorably drifting ever nearer to us under the mutual pull of gravity between the two galaxies.

Puragra Guhathakurta, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, said astronomers have long speculated that the two galaxies would eventually collide. "Now we've shown that a collision is inevitable," he said...

view full UCSC Press Release

April 25, 2012 — Huffman Prize winner helps develop better tools for analyzing "big data"

2012 Huffman prize
Senior Joshua Rosen, winner of the 2012 Huffman Prize. (Photo by C. Lagattuta)
By Tim Stephens

When UC Santa Cruz computer scientist Neoklis Polyzotis first had Joshua Rosen as a student in one of his classes, he initially thought Rosen was a graduate student taking the class as a refresher. "Josh was head and shoulders above his classmates in terms of his understanding of the material, his ability to think critically, and his technical prowess," said Polyzotis, an associate professor of computer science in the Baskin School of Engineering.

In fact, Rosen was not a graduate student, but a junior transfer from Cabrillo College who happened to have an exceptional aptitude for computer science. Polyzotis promptly invited him to work on a research project, and before long Rosen was deeply involved in a collaborative project with researchers at UC Irvine and Yahoo Research to develop better tools for large-scale data processing. In addition to his productive engagement in this research, Rosen managed to rack up an impressive 15 A+ grades and four A's in his classes at UC Santa Cruz.

Rosen is the 2012 winner of the Huffman Prize, awarded annually to a Baskin School of Engineering graduating senior whose academic career at UCSC exhibits extraordinary creativity, depth of inquiry, and overall excellence. The Huffman Prize honors the memory and the legacy of its namesake, David A. Huffman, professor emeritus of computer science. "Joshua is a student that David Huffman would have loved to have in his class, and I'm sure Joshua would have loved learning from David," said Charlie McDowell, professor of computer science and associate dean for undergraduate affairs in the Baskin School of Engineering...

view full UCSC Press Release

April 25, 2012 — A fusion of art and science

Science & Art at UCSC
UCSC's OpenLab program blends disciplines for new approaches to solving problems

By John C. Cannon

Last summer, visitors at the Tech Museum in San Jose had the chance to step off our planet and hurl a star into the cosmos.

On a screen in front of them lay a black hole waiting to yank in an errant star that visitors attempted to throw toward it at just the right angle and speed. A star isn’t sucked in and gobbled up by a black hole very often—in real life, only once every hundred thousand years or so. But when a museum visitor’s thrown star was destroyed—what astronomers refer to as “tidal disruption”—the screen on the wall exploded in a concussive burst of red light.

Using a Nintendo Wii remote connecting the user to the display, the game was just one result of collaborations between scientists and artists from UC Santa Cruz through a project called OpenLab.

The idea of OpenLab is simple: Bring together a group of specialists from different disciplines and task them with leveraging each other’s strengths to create new ways to visualize scientific research. What often results is a uniquely interactive work of art that changes the way its viewers think about difficult-to-understand concepts. In this case, “They will remember forever that they themselves disrupted a star,” says Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics, who co-founded OpenLab...

view full UCSC review

April 3, 2012 — Kepler Explorer app puts distant planets at your fingertips

Kepler Explorer app
The Kepler Explorer app is part of an exhibit to be installed at the Lick Observatory visitors gallery.
By Tim Stephens

Armchair explorers of the cosmos can now have at their fingertips the nearly 2,000 distant planetary systems discovered by NASA's Kepler Mission. Kepler Explorer, an innovative app for iPads and iPhones developed by a team at the University of California, Santa Cruz, provides interactive displays of newly discovered planetary systems based on Kepler data.

Now available for free from the iTunes App Store, Kepler Explorer was developed through the OpenLab initiative at UC Santa Cruz, which brought together faculty and students in astrophysics, art, and technology for a summer institute last year. The Kepler Explorer team includes astrophysicist Jonathan Fortney, a member of the Kepler science team; two of his graduate students, Eric Lopez and Caroline Morley; artist Kyle McKinley, a recent graduate of the Digital Arts and New Media program; and John Peters, a recent graduate of the computer game design program.

"I learned a lot about astrophysics from this project. It was a lot of fun," said Peters, who wrote all of the software code for the app...

view full UCSC Press Release

February 08, 2012 — New images capture 'stealth merger' of dwarf galaxies

'stealth merger"
The dwarf galaxy NGC 4449 is the first dwarf galaxy with an identified stellar stream (faintly seen at the lower right, and in inset). The star stream represents the remains of a smaller satellite galaxy merging with NGC 4449. The inset image shows the stream resolved into red giant stars. Image credit and copyright: R. Jay Gabany (Black Bird Obs.); Insert credit: Subaru/Suprime-Cam (NAOJ).

New images of a nearby dwarf galaxy have revealed a dense stream of stars in its outer regions, the remains of an even smaller companion galaxy in the process of merging with its host. The host galaxy, known as NGC 4449, is the smallest primary galaxy in which a stellar stream from an ongoing merger has been identified and studied in detail.

view UCSC Press Release

February 02, 2012 — New super-Earth detected within the habitable zone of a nearby star

New super-Earth
The newly discovered planet is depicted in this artist's conception, showing the host star as part of a triple-star system. The diagram below shows the orbits of the detected planets around the host star in relation to the habitable zone. (Images courtesy of Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Carnegie Institution)
An international team of scientists has discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star. With an orbital period of about 28 days and a minimum mass 4.5 times that of the Earth, the planet orbits within the star's "habitable zone," where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface. The researchers found evidence of at least one and possibly two or three additional planets orbiting the star, which is about 22 light years from Earth...

View UCSC Press Release

January 26, 2012 — NASA's Kepler mission announces 11 planetary systems hosting 26 planets

Kepler: 11 systems, 26 planets
This image (from video below) shows the known planetary systems with more than one planet transiting. Credit: Daniel Fabrycky.


NASA's Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems hosting 26 confirmed planets. These discoveries nearly double the number of verified Kepler planets and triple the number of stars known to have more than one planet that transits, or passes in front of, its host star. Such systems will help astronomers better understand how planets form...

View UCSC Press Release

January 09, 2012 — Wandering stars offer clues to history of our galaxy

Wandering Stars offer clues
Measurements of the metal content of stars in the disk of our galaxy. The bottom panel shows the decrease in metal content as the distance from the galactic center increases for stars near the plane of the Milky Way disk. In contrast, the metal content for stars far above the plane, shown in the upper panel, is nearly constant at all distances from the center of the Galaxy. Image Credit: Judy Cheng and Connie Rockosi (UCSC) and the 2MASS Survey.
Some stars have orbits that take them to interesting places, and they have interesting stories to tell about how they were formed.

For more than a decade, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has been mapping the stars in our galaxy. At the American Astronomical Society meeting this week in Austin, Texas, UC Santa Cruz astronomers Judy Cheng and Connie Rockosi presented new evidence that will help answer long-standing questions about the history of the stars in the disk of our galaxy...

View UCSC Press Release

December 22, 2011 — Astronomers' pristine gas discovery among top scientific breakthroughs of 2011

Newly discovered gas clouds
The newly discovered gas clouds may be part of a "cold flow" of gas similar to the streams seen in this simulation by Ceverino, Dekel, and Primack.
The discovery by UC Santa Cruz astronomers of pristine clouds of gas formed shortly after the Big Bang is among the scientific breakthroughs of the year featured in year-end issues of Science and Physics World magazines...

Related article: Astronomers find clouds of primordial gas from the early universe. (Nov. 10, 2011)

View UCSC Press Release

December 19, 2011 — UC Santa Cruz astronomer Jerry Nelson to receive 2012 Franklin Medal

The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia has announced that Jerry Nelson, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, will receive the 2012 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering.

Nelson is internationally renowned as a developer of innovative designs for advanced telescopes. The Franklin Institute is honoring him "for his pioneering contributions to the development of segmented-mirror telescopes."...

View UCSC Press Release

December 02, 2011 — Astrophysicist Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz named to Silicon Valley's '40 Under 40'

Astrophysicist Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz is among 40 "rising stars" in Silicon Valley recognized by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. A special "40 Under 40" feature in the December 2 issue of the Business Journal includes profiles of the honorees, who are recognized for their accomplishments and the impact they have on their communities...

View UCSC Press Release

November 09, 2011 — Ancient lunar dynamo may explain magnetized moon rocks

Ancient Lunar dynamo
The moon may have had a magnetic field early in its history. Photo by Monica Murphy.
The presence of magnetized rocks on the surface of the moon, which has no global magnetic field, has been a mystery since the days of the Apollo program. Now a team of scientists has proposed a novel mechanism that could have generated a magnetic field on the moon early in its history.

View UCSC Press Release

November 3, 2011 — Fermi telescope adds surprising new pulsars to growing collection

Scientists at Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics contributed to new findings.

An international team of scientists using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has discovered a surprisingly powerful millisecond pulsar that challenges existing theories about how these objects form. At the same time, another team has located nine new gamma-ray pulsars in Fermi data, using improved analytical techniques.

View UCSC Press Release

September 29, 2011 — Three "Bolshoi" Supercomputer Simulations of the Evolution of the Universe Announced by Authors from University of California, New Mexico State Universit

Bolshoi
Two research articles describing the most accurate cosmological simulation of the evolution of the large-scale structure of the universe yet made—named “Bolshoi” (the Russian word for “great” or “grand”)—have been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. The results calculated by the Bolshoi simulation—spectacular visualizations of what the universe was like at time steps 40 million or 80 million years apart—are being made publicly available to the world’s astronomers and astrophysicists...

View the UC-HiPACC Press Release
View the UCSC Press Release
View the NMSU Press Release
View the NASA Ames Press Release


Visit the Bolshoi Simulations Website