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Welcome

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 Biochemistry, and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and others.

CASS News

2019

Prof. Coil
19 April 2019 : Coil recipient of the 2018/19 Distinguished Teaching Award

Prof. Alison Coil has been selected as a recipient of the 2018/19 Distinguished Teaching Award for Academic Senate Members.


The Distinguished Teaching Award is a prestigious award bestowed upon up to five members of the Academic Senate, three non-Senate faculty members, and three graduate students at UC San Diego each year. The Distinguished Teaching Award was created because UC San Diego faculty recognize the important role excellent teaching plays at the University. This Award is a tangible expression of UC San Diego's commitment to excellence in teaching and to ensuring that this commitment is maintained. The Committee on Distinguished Teaching seeks to select those who exhibit creativity, innovative teaching methods, the ability to motivate students to actively seek out knowledge, and an extraordinary level of teaching commitment. Congratulations, Prof. Coil!


Black hole
11 April 2019 : Scientists on Wednesday revealed the first image ever made of a black hole, depicting its hot, shadowy edges where light bends around itself in a cosmic funhouse effect

Alison Coil discusses this first image of a black hole with KUSI-TV. Read More


Prof. Coil
20 March 2019 : Prof. Alison Coil comments on diversity of SpaceX and whether we should colonize Mars

A new CNBC video on SpaceX and Elon Musk examines the company and space travel, and asks questions about the diversity of the SpaceX workforce and whether solving climate change on Earth should be a higher priority than colonizing Mars. Read More


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4 March 2019 : Einstein's Quantum Riddle: Special PBS NOVA Screening and Panel Discussion

Einstein called it "spooky action at a distance," but today quantum entanglement is poised to revolutionize technology from computers to cryptography. NOVA follows a unique experiment in the Canary Islands to use quasars at opposite ends of the universe to push back alternative explanations for entanglement to the beginning of time. Join us for a screening of the PBS NOVA documentary "Einstein's Quantum Riddle," hosted by UC San Diego's Andrew Friedman, one of the collaborators on the project, followed by a panel discussion. Moderated by UCSD CASS Prof. Brian Keating, associate director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, Friedman will be joined by Jason Gallicchio (Professor of Physics, Harvey Mudd College) and David Brin (physicist and Hugo & Nebula-winning author). Monday, March 4 2019, 6-8p, Atkinson Auditorium, UC San Diego. Free and open to the public. Please RSVP here. Read More



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19 February 2019 : UCSD Astronomers Contribute to Disk Discovery

Adam Burgasser and Jon Rees contributed to the discovery of a white dwarf with an unusual debris disk orbiting it. The system, LSPM J0207+3331, was originally identified by citizen scientist Melina Thévenot of Germany working through the Backyward Worlds/Planet 9 Project. The discovery was reported in Astrophysical Journal Letters today. Read More


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15 February 2019 : Chris Theissen awarded NASA Sagan & NSF Postdoctoral Fellowships

Chris Theissen, a postdoctoral scholar at UCSD, has been awarded both NASA Sagan and NSF Postdoctoral Fellowships for 2019. The Sagan is one of the most prestigious postdoctoral awards in Astronomy, with an oversubscription rate of 16:1. Chris will be conducting his fellowship work with Prof. Quinn Konopacky.


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4 February 2019 : Angela Berti named 2019 Bouchet Scholar

Angela Berti, CASS/Physics Graduate Student, has been selected as a 2019 Bouchet Scholar. Named for the first African American doctoral recipient in the United States (in Physics from Yale University in 1876), the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate.

Five UC San Diego Bouchet Scholars were selected from among an outstanding group of nominees — Angela was the only one from Physics — , all of whom demonstrated a commitment to the tenets of the society. The Bouchet Scholars will be invited to attend the annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity in Graduate Education April 5-6, 2019 where they will be inducted into the society. Congratulations, Angela!


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3 January 2019 : PBS NOVA airing documentary, "Einstein's Quantum Riddle"

PBS NOVA is airing a documentary, "Einstein's Quantum Riddle" about the cosmic Bell experiment where CASS Assistant Research Scientist Andrew Friedman and collaborators tested fundamental questions about quantum entanglement with astronomical observations in the Canary Islands (S46 E2). It premiers Wed Jan 9 at 9pm on local PBS stations. Here is a teaser trailer. It is currently streaming for free on the PBS NOVA Website, and for $3 on Amazon Prime. The DVD can also be purchased from Amazon or NOVA. Read More



2018

Prof. Coil
29 November 2018 : Professor Alison Coil among the world’s most influential researchers

Professor Coil is among the world’s most influential researchers in their fields. Clarivate Analytics, which provides insights and analytics on research trends, compiled its 2018 Highly Cited Researchers list of more than 6,000 scientists from around the world whose studies were among the top one percent of most-cited publications in their field over the past 10 years. Read More


Dr. Andrew Friedman
20 November 2018 : Cosmologist Andrew Friedman's cosmic Bell test research recently spotlighted in two science magazines

The cosmic Bell test experiment which used astronomical observations of quasars to help test quantum entanglement was recently featured in an article for Symmetry Magazine and as the cover story for this week's issue of New Scientist Magazine. Read More


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18 November 2018 : CASS physics Faculty Wright and Keating featured in San Diego UT piece

Awash in money, UC San Diego enjoys a golden age in research. Read More


Prof. Keating
16 November 2018 : Keating's book selected as one of Amazon's 20 Best Science Books of 2018

Professor Brian Keating’s book, Losing the Nobel Prize, has been selected as one of Amazon’s 20 Best Science Books of 2018. Read More


Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego
1 November 2018 : Astrophysicist Shelley Wright enlightens campus, community with portable planetarium

As a scientist who observes distant galaxies and black holes both far and near, Shelley Wright noticed an important gap in space—right on the grounds of the University of California San Diego. A proponent of teaching and training students through the observation of the night sky, Wright realized that it was time the university featured its own portable planetarium. Read More


Photo courtesy of TMT International Observatory
1 November 2018 : Hawaiian court clears the way for construction of one of the world’s most massive telescopes

The Hawaiian Supreme Court ruled Oct. 30 to support the construction permit of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) atop Mauna Kea. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the telescope would be the biggest and most expensive in the Northern Hemisphere. It would also be one of three huge prospective telescopes that could transform astronomy in the 21st century. UC San Diego astrophysicist Shelley Wright is the Project Scientist for TMT’s first light instrument, IRIS. Read More


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20 August 2018 : Andrew Friedman and colleagues' "Cosmic Bell" experiment in the news: testing quantum entanglement with quasars

CASS Assistant Research Scientist Andrew Friedman's work testing quantum theory using light from distant quasars to choose measurement settings in an entanglement test has been featured as an Editors Suggestion in Physical Review Letters. See press releases from UCSD, MIT, Vienna IQOQI, and Harvey Mudd College. Also see other news coverage from Space.com, Motherboard (Vice), Gizmodo, and Physics World. Read More


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30 January 2018 : Alison Coil and Karin Sandstrom receive 2017 UC San Diego Diversity Awards

Professors Alison Coil and Karin Sandstrom are each a recipient of the 2017 UC San Diego Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Award. The awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 1, 2018 from 1:30-3:00 pm, in the Price Center West Ballroom. All are welcome to attend.


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12 January 2018 : Alison Coil appointed Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Division of Physical Sciences

Alison Coil has been appointed to the newly created position of Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Division of Physical Sciences.

Professor Coil has extensive experience related to equity, diversity, and inclusion issues at UC San Diego. She created and leads the Graduate Women in Physics group, chaired Excellence Through Diversity faculty hires in Physics for four consecutive years, and was an integral force in more than doubling the representation of women faculty in Physics in the last decade. Professor Coil has served on multiple campus-wide efforts related to equity, diversity, and inclusion and was awarded a University-wide Diversity award in 2010. She has served as the Faculty Equity Advisor for the Division of Physical Sciences since 2014, where she has taken an active role in mentoring and advocating for women and underrepresented minority faculty in the division. She currently chairs the Divisional Excellence Committee, related to inclusion in faculty hiring, and co-chairs the Task Force on the Status of Women in the Division of Physical Sciences.

Congratulations, Professor Coil!


2017

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21 December 2017 : New Study Finds 'Winking' Star May Be Devouring Wrecked Planets

Carl Melis, CASS Associate Research Scientist and co-author of the paper says, "the result concerns a nearby, dusty star that has been considered as both being young with possible terrestrial-like planet building ongoing and as old with possible companion disruption. Our work demonstrates the youth of this source through X-ray and optical observations and also the existence of significant quantities of gas orbiting with the dust. We conclude that this young star is likely in the process of consuming a close-orbiting gas-giant planet." Read More


Viire, Weir & Keating
21 December 2017 : 'The Martian' author Andy Weir speaks at UCSD

Andy Weir, author of 'The Martian', as part of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination with Prof. Brian Keating and CASS Scientist Andy Freidman. Read More


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20 December 2017 : UC San Diego Researchers Shed Light on Formation of Black Holes and Galaxies

Latest findings increase understanding of how powerful winds generated by super- massive black holes impact growth of a galaxy. Read More


Professor Keating
18 December 2017 : UC San Diego to design telescope to search for "ancient light" from the universe

UC San Diego has begun designing a powerful telescope that will be placed in Chile’s Atacama Desert to search for “ancient light” that could help explain how the universe arose from the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.
The $10 million telescope will be the largest of five instruments that are being developed as part of the Simons Observatory, which will be located on a high, arid plateau that’s well-suited for searching the cosmos. Read More


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13 December 2017 : UC San Diego signs on to study cosmos with massive new telescope in South America

On behalf of collaborators at institutions worldwide, the University of California San Diego recently signed a contract for the design and construction of a state-of-the-art millimeter wave telescope for the Simons Observatory. The telescope is the first of several which will be located in the high Atacama Desert of Northern Chile in 2020. Read More


Prof. Konopacky
26 October 2017 : Quinn Konopacky named 2017-18 Hellman Faculty Fellow

Assistant Professor of Physics Quinn Konopacky has been named a UCSD Hellman Faculty Fellow for 2017-18. The Hellman Fellows Program annually awards funding to recognize faculty who show capacity for great distinction in their research and academic work, and is intended to support activities that will enhance their progress towards tenure. Congratulations, Professor Konopacky! Read More


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16 October 2017 : Jérémy Chastenet joins CASS

Jérémy Chastenet has been appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar in CASS effective October 16th. Dr. Chastenet is under the supervision of Prof. Karin Sandstrom. His research activities include studying the properties of dust in nearby galaxies using observations from the Herschel Space Observatory and the WISE All-Sky survey. Welcome aboard, Dr. Chastenet!


Dr. Malkov
12 October 2017 : Malkov elected a 2017 Fellow of the APS

Mikhail Malkov has been elected a 2017 Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) by the APS Council of Representatives upon the recommendation of the Division of Plasma Physics (DPP). The number of APS Fellows elected each year is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the membership. It is a prestigious recognition by their peers of their outstanding contributions to physics. Dr. Malkov is being recognized for his ground-breaking contributions to the theory of charged particle acceleration by collisionless shocks, the theory of nonlinear shock acceleration and injection, and the propagation of accelerated particles; for key contributions to modeling the LH transition. Congratulations Mischa!


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5 October 2017 : UCSD professor and CASS engineers pioneered significant development of electron sensors for the advancement of electron microscopy

The Nobel prize in chemistry was awarded for the development of cryo-electron microscopy. The latest technical developments that made the recent breakthrough possible was the introduction of new electron detectors in electron microscopy. Early reports on the use of these sensors for the detection of electrons were presented around the mid-2000s, but these sensors had already been used as a tool in studies of charged particles in other research areas, such as astronomy. This sensor work was pioneered by Dr. Xuong of the UCSD Physics department with the support of CASS engineers Fred Dutweiler and Philippe LeBlanc.


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18 September 2017 : Alex Lowell joins CASS

Alexander Lowell has been appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar in CASS effective November 8th. Dr. Lowell is under the supervision of Prof. Steven Boggs and his research activities will involve Compton Spectrometer and Imager gamma rays. Welcome aboard, Dr. Lowell!


Courtesy: UCSD Communications
21 August 2017 : CASS Astronomers Take Flight for Rare Solar Eclipse

Several CASS astronomers traveled far and wide to view today's special eclipse, which was the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in the United States in 99 years. Read More


Dr. Roberts
14 August 2017 : Jarred Roberts joins CASS

Jarred Roberts has been appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar in CASS effective August 14th. Dr. Roberts is under the supervision of Prof. Steven Boggs and his research activities will involve high-energy physics instrumentation development for experiments like the Compton Spectrometer and Imager Explorer (COSI-X) and the General Antiparticle Spectrometer (GAPS). Welcome aboard, Dr. Roberts!


TRAPPIST-1
11 August 2017 : TRAPPIST-1 is Older Than Our Solar System

Adam Burgasser -- first author on paper outlining a new study that the TRAPPIST-1 star is quite old: between 5.4 and 9.8 billion years. This is up to twice as old as our own solar system, which formed some 4.5 billion years ago. Read More


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4 August 2017 : Primordial Black Holes May Have Helped to Forge
Heavy Elements

Astronomers like to say we are the byproducts of stars, stellar furnaces that long ago fused hydrogen and helium into the elements needed for life through the process of stellar nucleosynthesis.

As the late Carl Sagan once put it: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.”

But what about the heavier elements in the periodic chart, elements such as gold, platinum and uranium?

Astronomers believe most of these “r-process elements”—elements much heavier than iron—were created, either in the aftermath of the collapse of massive stars and the associated supernova explosions, or in the merging of binary neutron star systems.

“A different kind of furnace was needed to forge gold, platinum, uranium and most other elements heavier than iron,” explained George Fuller, a theoretical astrophysicist and professor of physics who directs UC San Diego’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences. “These elements most likely formed in an environment rich with neutrons.” Read More


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26 July 2017 : Milky Way’s origins are not what they seem

Prof. Keres and the FIRE team found that a large fraction of matter in the Milky Way comes from far-flung galaxies. Read More


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1 June 2017 : Sibasish Laha joins CASS

Sibasish Laha has been appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar in CASS effective June 1st. Dr. Laha is under the supervision of Dr. Alex Markowitz and his research activities will involve studying how supermassive black holes residing in other galaxies are fueled. He will use observational X-ray data on dozens of gas-accreting black holes to study how matter is transported from the host galaxies. Welcome aboard!


An artist’s conception of SIMP0136. Image by NASA/JPL
9 May 2017 : Nearby Brown Dwarf Appears to be a Free-Floating ‘Planet’

Adam Burgasser was part of an international team which has discovered that one of the closest brown dwarfs to our Sun has the same mass as a giant planet. It's called SIMP J013656.5+093347, or SIMP0136 for short, and is a well-studied brown dwarf only 21 light-years from the Sun in the constellation Pisces. Read More


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9 March 2017 : Adam Burgasser awarded a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholarship

Adam Burgasser has been awarded a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholarship to conduct astrophysical research in the United Kingdom. The Fulbright Program, initiated by Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 and managed by the US Department of State, aims to increase mutual understanding and support of friendly and peaceful relations between people of the US and the people of other countries by awarding exchange grants to US and foreign researchers in over 155 countries. Over 370,000 Fulbright Awards have been awarded since the programs inception, and many have gone on to win Nobel Prizes and become leaders and innovators in scientific research. Adam will be in residence at the University of Exeter investigating cloud formation in the atmospheres of the coolest stars, brown dwarfs and extrasolar planets.


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23 February 2017 : Andrew Friedman's work on cosmic tests of fundamental quantum mechanics spotlighted

New CASS Assistant Research Scientist Andrew Friedman's work on cosmic tests of fundamental quantum mechanics has been featured as an Editors Suggestion in PRL, and is written up in Forbes, New Scientist, Quanta, and The Atlantic magazines. Here are the articles in Forbes, Quanta, and The Atlantic. For the PRL release: Read More


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23 February 2017 : Andrew Friedman newly appointed in CASS

Andrew Friedman has been appointed as an Assistant Research Scientist in CASS, effective March 1st. Welcome aboard!


Edward Bouchet
23 February 2017 : Two graduate students selected as members of the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society

Mojegan Azadi and Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi have been selected to be members of the UC San Diego Chapter of the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society for 2017. Their nominations demonstrate their exemplification of the characteristics of Edward A. Bouchet: Character, Leadership, Advocacy, Service, and Scholarly Achievement. Congratulations! Read More


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22 February 2017 : Adam Burgasser contributes to discovery of potentially habitable planetary system

Adam Burgasser is part of an international team that discovered a record-setting seven-planet system around a very low-mass, low-temperature star called TRAPPIST-1. All seven planets are roughly Earth-sized, and three reside in the star's habitable zone. Read More



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30 January 2017 : Quinn Konopacky receives 2016 UCSD Diversity Award

Congratulations to Quinn Konopacky, Assistant Professor of Physics, for being nominated to receive a 2016 UCSD Diversity Award!

The annual Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Awards Program honors staff, faculty, students, departments, and organizational units or groups that make outstanding contributions in the areas of equal opportunity, affirmative action, diversity, and the UCSD Principles of Community during the year.


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