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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

2016

Three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth
2 May 2016 : Astronomers Discover Three Potentially Habitable Earth-Sized Worlds Around A Dim Star 40 Light-years Away

An international team of astronomers, including UC San Diego’s Professor Adam Burgasser and graduate student Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi, has reported in Nature the discovery of three Earth-sized planets orbiting near the “habitable zone” of an ultracool dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1, 40 light years in the direction of the constellation Aquarius. These are the first terrestrial planets to be discovered around such a tiny and dim star, and opens a new avenue in the search for life beyond Earth. The planets were found via the transit method, in which a planet passing between us and its host star blocks a small portion of the starlight, producing a subtle but periodic dimming pattern. Multiple transits for this star were detected with the TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) telescope, and their timings indicate the presence of three planets with orbit periods between 1.5 days and 73 days. These short orbits are likely to be in or around the habitable zone of the star, a zone in which liquid water could potentially exist on the planets’ surfaces. Evidence that this is the case will have to wait until the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, which will have the capability of measuring the chemical composition of these planets’ atmospheres. Also the ESO press release can be found here, USA Today story here, The Atlantic story here, National Geographic story here, and a conversation piece here. For the UCSD press release: Read More


Professor Alison Coil
20 April 2016 : Alison Coil acts as scientific consultant for the play
Constellations at The Old Globe Theater

Professor Alison Coil served as the scientific consultant for a play at the Old Globe, called Constellations. She also headed up a post-show Q+A with the audience on April 16th called “Subject Matters".

The play takes place in a multiverse, based on the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and the lead character is a female astrophysicist. The audience sees the same two people play out their relationship in different parallel universes in which they make different decisions.

Coil met with the director, Rick Seer, to discuss the science behind the play and talked about how to stage it and convey the multiverse idea to the audience. She met with the two actors to answer their questions about the science and the characters. She also advised the scenic designer to create a hexagonal set that referenced the male character, a beekeeper, and because of the hexagonal mirrors used at the Keck Telescopes. Read More


Professor Keating
12 April 2016 : 50 Voices of the Future: Brian Keating shares the secrets of the Universe

Professor Brian Keating is part of a team of scientists trying to view and analyze the light emitted in the instant after the Big Bang – light that “has traveled since essentially the beginning of time to reach us.” The work of Keating and his colleagues might, among other things, help prove or disprove the existence of multiple universes. Their research has implications beyond the field of science. Read More


Professor Kosuga
6 April 2016 : Yusuke Kosuga receives the 10th Young Scientist Award
of the Physical Society of Japan

Congratulations to Yusuke Kosuga (PhD 2012) for winning the 10th Young Scientist Award of the Physical Society of Japan (Division 2, Plasma Physics). Kosuga, who is currently Assistant Professor in The Institute for Advanced Study and Research Institute of Applied Mechanics of Kyushu University, was cited for: 'Research on plasma turbulence and transport with statistical fluctuation in real and velocity space'.

Work done at UCSD, the WCI Center for Fusion Theory (RoK), and Kyushu University was listed in the full citation. At UCSD, Kosuga was a member of the Diamond group in CASS and Physics. The full announcement in English can be found here, and in Japanese and English here. Read More


Professor Burgasser
31 March 2016 : Adam Burgasser: 2015/16 Distinguished Teaching Award
for Academic Senate Members

Professor Adam Burgasser has been selected by the Committee on Senate Awards as a recipient of the 2015/16 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, Professor Burgasser!


Dr. Michelsen
31 March 2016 : Eric Michelsen: 2015/16 Distinguished Teaching Award
for Non-Senate Members

Dr. Eric Michelsen has been selected by the Committee on Senate Awards as a recipient of the 2015/16 Barbara and Paul Saltman Distinguished Teaching Award for Non-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.

In 1999-2000, the establishment of an endowment in memory of Professor Paul D. Saltman extended the Distinguished Teaching Awards to non-Senate faculty members and graduate students who meet the award criteria and who also exhibit other qualities that emulate Professor Saltman's passion for teaching and learning. Kudos, Dr. M.!


Swirls for Swirls, courtesy of UC Berkeley
23 March 2016 : Quantum detectors search for signatures of Quantum Gravity

Detectors developed for UCSD’s POLARBEAR-2 and Simons Array experiments are featured in this article in the IEEE Spectrum magazine. These antennas were invented in the 1980s to solve important problems in microwave polarimetry and were later perfected for use in Cosmology experiments such as POLARBEAR-2 and the Simons Array by CASS Professor Gabriel Rebeiz. These novel sensors will be deployed in 2017 to search for primordial gravitational waves from the Inflationary cosmological epoch which, if convincingly detected, would provide the strongest evidence for quantum gravity — a goal long sought after by physicists. Read More


CASS Logo.jpg
16 March 2016 : Zhibin Guo appointed CASS Postdoctoral Scholar

Dr. Zhibin Guo has been appointed in CASS as a Postdoctoral Scholar effective March 16th. He will be conducting research with PI Professor Pat Diamond primarily on models of synchronization of modes by toroidal coupling, and the destruction of synchronization by shear flows. Dr. Guo comes to us from Seoul National University where he was a Postdoctoral Researcher. Congratulations on your new appointment, Dr. Guo!


Professor Keres
25 February 2016 : Dusan Keres named a 2016 Cottrell Scholar

The Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) has named Professor Dusan Keres as a 2016 Cottrell Scholar. He is part of a very select group of 24 early career academic scientists nationwide to receive this distinction. Congratulations, Professor Keres! Read More


Professor Rebeiz
8 February 2016 : Gabriel Rebeiz elected to the National Academy
of Engineering

Gabriel Rebeiz, Wireless Communications Industry Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UCSD and CASS affiliate, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his work on reconfigurable radios/RF MEMS and phased-array technologies. Read More


Karin Sandstrom's video
26 January 2016 : Karin Sandstrom's work on space dust featured in UCSD
video series

Assistant Professor of Physics Karin Sandstrom’s work on space dust is featured in the first of a video series produced by the Division of Physical Sciences, using computer animation to show science on scales too big and too small to see. Professor Sandstrom studies the interstellar medium - the dust and gas in galaxies and between stars, and especially how ultraviolet light interacts with soot-like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. That, she says, is key to everything - how stars (and planets) form, how galaxies evolve, and perhaps how life emerged. Read More


(L-R) Professors Wright, Konopacky & Sandstrom
21 January 2016 : Star Role Models: Quinn Konopacky, Karin Sandstrom,
Shelley Wright

These recent assistant professors of physics hires in the Department of Physics and CASS are giving humanity a view of the universe as it’s never been seen before. Read More


UWIP Conference
21 January 2016 : Campus conference welcomes Undergraduate Women in
Physics

At a time when women remain underrepresented in the sciences and a student can still complete a physics degree without taking a class in her major led by a female professor, UC San Diego welcomed nearly 200 students to a conference for undergraduate women in physics this past weekend. Read More


Dr. Stebor
1 January 2016 : Nathan Stebor appointed as an Assistant Project Scientist
in CASS

Nathan Stebor has been appointed as an Assistant Project Scientist in CASS, effective January 1st. He was formerly a CASS Postdoctoral Scholar. Congratulations, Dr. Stebor!



2015

Inamori.jpg
11 December 2015 : David Leon named a 2015 Inamori Foundation Fellow

The intent of the Inamori Fellowship Program is to support our best and brightest current graduate students who will ensure the future of humanity through the balance of the scientific process and the human spirit. This investment in our students is parallel to the Inamori Foundation's commitment to the Kyoto Prize that is given annually to those who have made significant contributions to the progress of science, the development of civilization, and the enrichment and elevation of the human spirit. Congratulations to David! Read More


Dr. Simmons
7 December 2015 : Brooke Simmons appointed Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow
in CASS

Brooke Simmons has been appointed as an Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow in CASS effective December 1, 2015. Dr. Simmons studies accreting supermassive black holes in galaxies without a detectable stellar bulge. This work has implications for black hole scaling relationships and galaxy-black hole co-evolution. She earned her PhD in Astronomy from Yale University and completed a postdoctoral researcher position at the University of Oxford prior to coming to UCSD. Welcome to CASS, Dr. Simmons!


Polarized emission from Milky Way dust, which complicates the search for B-modes from the era of inflation, as seen by the Planck telescope. Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration
28 October 2015 : The B-Mode Story You Haven't Heard

It's a tough time to be a B-mode.

B-modes rocketed to fame in March 2014, when a team of scientists working on an experiment called BICEP2 announced the first direct evidence for primordial gravitational waves rippling out from the earliest moments of the universe: a distinctive imprint in the cosmic microwave background (the light left over from the Big Bang) called "B-mode polarization," or B-modes for short. Polarization describes the way that light-waves are oriented, and B-mode waves are twisted into a swirling pattern. The detection of these swirls was a stunning confirmation of the theory of cosmic inflation. Suddenly, B-modes were electromagnetic celebrities. PBS story: Read More


Dr. Reasenberg
1 October 2015 : Robert Reasenberg appointed CASS Research Scientist

We are pleased to announce that Robert Reasenberg has accepted an appointment in CASS as a Research Scientist, effective October 1, 2015. Dr. Reasenberg is from Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Welcome to CASS, Dr. Reasenberg!


Multiple spots in a simulated galaxy glow brightly at submillimeter wavelengths of light
23 September 2015 : Dusan Keres and team illuminate origin
of brightest galaxies

In the new issue of journal Nature, a team of scientists including Dusan Keres, Assistant Professor of Physics, presents a new supercomputer simulation that can help explain the origin of some of the most extreme objects in the universe, bright submillimeter galaxies. These objects can form stars with rates up to 1000 times faster than our own Galaxy. Read more in the UCSD press release, an article in LA Times or the paper and related News & Views in Nature. Read More


Dr. Johnson
18 September 2015 : Cliff Johnson appointed CASS Postdoctoral Scholar

Cliff Johnson has been appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar in CASS effective September 21, 2015. Dr. Johnson works in Assistant Professor of Physics Karin Sandstrom's group on multiwavelength observational studies of the interstellar medium and stellar populations in nearby galaxies. He earned his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Washington. Welcome to CASS, Dr. Johnson!


51 Eri b
13 August 2015 : Quinn Konopacky and team analyze the atmosphere
of a 'Young Jupiter' exoplanet

Assistant Professor of Physics Quinn Konopacky with a team of other astronomers used the Gemini Planet Imager to detect an exoplanet, called 51 Eri b, which is like a young Jupiter, a gas giant about twice Jupiter's mass but hotter and even younger than its star. The newly discovered planet orbits 51 Eridani, a nearby star a lot like our own, though brighter and much younger, just 20 million years old. UCSD News story, and U-T story: Read More


Polarbear.jpg
1 August 2015 : Grant Teply appointed CASS Postdoctoral Scholar

Grant Teply has been appointed to CASS as a Postdoctoral Scholar effective August 1, 2015. Dr. Teply works in Professor of Physics Brian Keating's observational cosmology group on the POLARBEAR telescope project. He earned his PhD in Physics from Caltech. Welcome to CASS, Dr. Teply!


Dr. Jorgenson
30 July 2015 : Former Physics Graduate Student named new Director of
Astronomy at the Maria Mitchell Association

Dr. Regina Jorgenson will join the staff of the Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) as the new Director of Astronomy on January 4, 2016. Dr. Jorgenson earned her Ph.D. in physics at UCSD, specializing in studies of galaxy formation and evolution. She worked in CASS under the tutelage of the late Professor Arthur Wolfe. Read More


FreeWill poster 01small1.jpg
29 July 2015 : "The Physics of Free Will" panel discussion with Professor Brian Keating on August 6th

Professor of Physics Brian Keating will be part of a panel discussion on "The Physics of Free Will", on Thursday, August 6th at 6:00 pm at Atkinson Auditorium, first floor of Qualcomm Institute/Calit2. The event is sponsored by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and is free and open to the public. RSVP required. Read More


The POLARBEAR Telescope in Chile
14 July 2015 : Inner Workings: Probing cosmic mysteries in a remote desert

Professor of Physics Brian Keating's group is part of an international team of cosmologists manning the POLARBEAR Telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert, in hopes it will illuminate the conditions of the universe just after its dawn 13.8 billion years ago. Read More


Professor Sandstrom
1 July 2015 : Karin Sandstrom appointed Assistant Professor of Physics

Karin Sandstrom has been appointed as an Assistant Professor of Physics at UCSD effective July 1, 2015. Professor Sandstrom's main interest of research is in the interstellar medium: the gas and dust between the stars in a galaxy. In particular, she is interested in the properties of interstellar dust - how dust properties evolve over time, vary within and among galaxies, and how they influence the physics of the interstellar medium. Please welcome Professor Sandstrom to CASS!


NSF logo.jpg
1 June 2015 : Professor Brian Keating and CASS Associate Research Scientist Kam Arnold to share $5,000,000 NSF Award for the Simons Array Experiment

Professor of Physics Brian Keating and CASS Associate Research Scientist Kam Arnold received a $5,000,000 NSF Award for the Simons Array Experiment. Both are Co-I's on the project. The title of their project is "POLARBEAR/Simons Array: High-fidelity maps of CMB polarization to study large-scale structure, measure neutrino masses, and search for the signature of inflation." Congratulations! Read More


Canadian PM supports TMT
6 April 2015 : Canada announces significant support for TMT

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Government of Canada's intention to provide significant support for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), an international project that will build one of the world's largest and most advanced astronomical observatories in Hawaii. One news story. Read More


Neutrino flavor transformation
20 March 2015 : Alexey Vlasenko appointed CASS Postdoctoral Scholar

Alexey Vlasenko has been appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar in CASS effective March 20, 2015. Dr. Vlasenko works in George Fuller's group on neutrino astrophysics. He earned his PhD in Physics from UCSD. Congratulations, Dr. Vlasenko!


Wright and NIROSETI Team @ Lick
19 March 2015 : Shelley Wright plays key role in developing NIROSETI

Astronomers have expanded the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light. Shelley Wright, Assistant Professor of Physics, led the development of a new instrument called NIROSETI for near-infrared optical SETI, which has been installed at UC's Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton. The new instrument has just begun to scour the sky for messages from other worlds. Read More


1 of 3 South Pole Telescopes
12 February 2015 : Cosmology: The oldest cosmic light

Associate Professor of Physics Brian Keating discusses CMB photons, "massless messengers", in this Nature article. Read More


Professors Norman & Keating with Chancellor Khosla
4 February 2015 : Professors Brian Keating and Mike Norman receive 2014
UCSD Diversity Award

Congratulations to Brian Keating, Associate Professor of Physics, and Mike Norman, Professor of Physics and Director of SDSC, for being nominated by Suresh Subramani, Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, to receive a 2014 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. Read More


The proposed satellite, CalSat
6 January 2015 : Jon Kaufman and Brian Keating awarded a 2014 Buchalter
Cosmology Prize

Associate Professor of Physics Brian Keating and CASS Postdoctoral Scholar Jon Kaufman, along with Brad Johnson, Professor of Physics at Columbia, have been awarded a 2014 Buchalter Cosmology Prize for a paper proposing a way to significantly enhance cosmological measurements in a manner that should enable sensitive test of ideas fundamental to our understanding of physical laws. Their paper was posted to the online repository arXiv in September 2014, http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1409.8242 (link to paper). Congratulations! Read More


Professor Konopacky
1 January 2015 : Quinn Konopacky appointed Assistant Professor of Physics

Quinn Konopacky has been appointed as an Assistant Professor of Physics at UCSD effective January 1, 2015. Professor Konopacky's research focuses on planet formation and evolution, high contrast imaging, star formation, stellar and substellar evolution, orbital dynamics, high angular resolution imaging and spectroscopy, adaptive optics, astrometry, speckle interferometry, optical and infrared astronomy. Please welcome Professor Konopacky to CASS!


Professor Wright
1 January 2015 : Shelley Wright appointed Assistant Professor of Physics

Shelley Wright has been appointed as an Assistant Professor of Physics at UCSD effective January 1, 2015. Her research encompasses experimental and observational astrophysics, optical and infrared instrumentation, adaptive optics, galaxy formation and evolution, and SETI. Please welcome Professor Wright to CASS!


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