Feature Story • August 17, 2017
On August 21, for about two minutes across a swath of North America, Earth's moon will pass in front of and completely block out the sun, causing a total solar eclipse. Countless people are expected to witness this rare phenomenon, the first total solar eclipse in North America in 38 years. Just this week, scientists at Caltech and JPL decided that a small space telescope will be watching with them.
Feature Story • September 8, 2016
Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and other X-ray observatories, astronomers have found evidence for what is likely one of the most extreme pulsars, or rotating neutron stars, ever detected. The source exhibits properties of a highly magnetized neutron star, or magnetar, yet its deduced spin period is thousands of times longer than any pulsar ever observed.
Feature Story • August 8, 2016
Fiona Harrison, principal investigator of NASA's NuSTAR mission, has been selected to receive the 2016 Massey Award, given by the Committee on Space Research. The Massey Award honors "outstanding contributions to the development of space research in which a leadership role is of particular importance" and honors the memory of Sir Harrie Massey.
Feature Story • July 28, 2016
Supermassive black holes in the universe are like a raucous choir singing in the language of X-rays. When black holes pull in surrounding matter, they let out powerful X-ray bursts. This song of X-rays, coming from a chorus of millions of black holes, fills the entire sky -- a phenomenon astronomers call the cosmic X-ray background.
Feature Story • July 12, 2016
The European Space Agency's orbiting X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has proved the existence of a "gravitational vortex" around a black hole. The discovery, aided by NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, solves a mystery that has eluded astronomers for more than 30 years, and will allow them to map the behavior of matter very close to black holes. It could also open the door to future investigations of Albert Einstein's general relativity.
Feature Story • March 16, 2016
Using observations made by X-ray space observatories NuSTAR and Swift/XRT, a team of scientists led by Ashley King (Einstein Fellow at Stanford University) has managed to measure the location of the inner edge of the disk in Aquila X-1, a neutron-star X-ray binary located 17,000 light-years away.
Feature Story • January 22, 2016
Dr. Lynn R. Cominsky, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, joined the faculty at Sonoma State University in 1986 and became chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department in 2004. She also founded Sonoma State’s Education and Public Outreach group in 1999. Previously, she worked with the University of California, Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory and NASA’s Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer Satellite Project. Dr. Cominsky earned her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her BA from Brandeis University.
Feature Story • January 16, 2016
The 2015 Rossi Prize has been awarded to Fiona Harrison, the Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics at Caltech, for her "groundbreaking work on supernova remnants, neutron stars, and black holes enabled by NuSTAR." The award is the top prize in high-energy astrophysics.
Feature Story • January 5, 2016
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured the best high-energy X-ray view yet of a portion of our nearest large, neighboring galaxy, Andromeda. The space mission has observed 40 "X-ray binaries" -- intense sources of X-rays comprised of a black hole or neutron star that feeds off a stellar companion.
Feature Story • December 17, 2015
The most massive black holes in the universe are often encircled by thick, doughnut-shaped disks of gas and dust. This deep-space doughnut material ultimately feeds and nourishes the growing black holes tucked inside.
Feature Story • October 26, 2015
The baffling and strange behaviors of black holes have become somewhat less mysterious recently, with new observations from NASA's Explorer missions Swift and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. The two space telescopes caught a supermassive black hole in the midst of a giant eruption of X-ray light, helping astronomers address an ongoing puzzle: How do supermassive black holes flare?
Feature Story • July 6, 2015
Some of the "biggest and baddest" black holes around are buried under thick blankets of gas and dust. These monsters in the middle of galaxies are actively devouring material, but their hidden nature makes observing them a challenge. NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) recently caught a glimpse of five of these secluded beasts.
Feature Story • January 16, 2015
The 2015 Rossi Prize has been awarded to Fiona Harrison, a professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, for her "groundbreaking work on supernova remnants, neutron stars and black holes enabled by NuSTAR".
Feature Story • December 22, 2014
For the first time, a mission designed to set its eyes on black holes and other objects far from our solar system has turned its gaze back closer to home, capturing images of our sun. NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array has taken its first picture of the sun, producing the most sensitive solar portrait ever taken in high-energy X-rays.
Feature Story • July 31, 2014
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, a premier black-hole hunter among other talents, has finished up its two-year prime mission, and will be moving onto its next phase, a two-year extension.
Feature Story • June 19, 2014
Astronomers have discovered strange and unexpected behaviour around the supermassive black hole at the heart of the galaxy NGC 5548. The international team of researchers detected a clumpy gas stream flowing quickly outwards and blocking 90 percent of the X-rays emitted by the black hole. This activity could provide insights into how supermassive black holes interact with their host galaxies.
Feature Story • April 30, 2014
Three professors at Caltech have been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. The announcement was made Tuesday, April 29, in Washington D.C. The new Caltech electees are Gregory C. Fu, Altair Professor of Chemistry; Fiona A. Harrison, Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics; and John P. Preskill, Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics.
Feature Story • April 28, 2014
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected three Caltech faculty members as academy fellows. They are John F. Brady, Chevron Professor of Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and executive officer for chemical engineering; Kenneth A. Farley, W. M. Keck Foundation Professor of Geochemistry and chair of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences; and Fiona A. Harrison, Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics.
Feature Story • March 11, 2014
Two high school seniors from Long Island are among the top 10 winners named Tuesday night in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search competition, chosen from among 40 finalists across the country competing in Washington, D.C.