A Powerful New Astronomy Instrument Gets Ready for Hawaii

It's time to go to Hawaii—at least, if you're MOSFIRE, a new near-infrared spectrometer that's now on its way to the W. M. Keck Observatory, atop Mauna Kea. But the powerful new instrument, six feet in diameter, about a dozen feet in length, and weighing in at 4,500 pounds—10,000 if you include the mount and packing crate—isn't going there to surf. MOSFIRE will be the newest weapon in the Keck's arsenal to survey the cosmos, helping astronomers learn about star formation, galaxy formation, and the early universe. 

Radio Stars

Growing up in rural northwest Ireland, beyond the reach of city lights, Gregg Hallinan fell in love with the night sky. "When you didn't have bad weather, and you didn't have clouds, the skies were nothing short of spectacular," he says. "From a young age, I was obsessed with astronomy—it's all I cared for. My parents got me a telescope when I was seven or eight, and from then on, that was it." Now, Hallinan has brought his celestial obsession to Caltech as a new assistant professor of astronomy.

Caltech's George Helou Honored by Home Country of Lebanon

George Helou, senior research associate in physics at Caltech, has received numerous honors over the past year from his home country of Lebanon in recognition of his work in astronomy. "It is gratifying to receive these accolades from my country of origin, as an indication of the value they attach to science and education," says Helou, who is also executive director of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), deputy director of the Spitzer Science Center, and director of the Herschel Science Center. 

 

Michael Aschbacher Wins Wolf Prize in Mathematics

Michael Aschbacher, the Shaler Arthur Hanisch Professor of Mathematics, will share the 2012 Wolf Prize in mathematics. The award recognizes his role in classifying types of mathematical objects called finite simple groups. According to the prize citation, "His impact on the theory of finite groups is extraordinary in its breadth, depth, and beauty."

AAS Honors John Johnson for Observational Astronomical Research

John Johnson, assistant professor of astronomy at Caltech, has been named the recipient of the American Astronomical Society's 2012 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize, which is awarded for outstanding achievement in observational astronomical research based on measurements of radiation from an astronomical object.

Astronomers Release Unprecedented Data Set on Celestial Objects that Brighten and Dim

Astronomers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of Arizona have released the largest data set ever collected that documents the brightening and dimming of stars and other celestial objects—two hundred million in total.

Aschbacher Receives Steele Prize

Michael Aschbacher, the Shaler Arthur Hanisch Professor of Mathematics, has been awarded the 2012 Leroy P. Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition by the American Mathematical Society (AMS). Aschbacher, along with coauthors Richard Lyons of Rutgers University, Steve Smith of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Ronald Solomon of Ohio State University, were recognized for a paper on the classification of certain types of groups, which are fundamental mathematical objects.

 

 

The "Supernova of a Generation" Shows Its Stuff

It was the brightest and closest stellar explosion seen from Earth in 25 years, dazzling professional and backyard astronomers alike. Now, thanks to this rare discovery—which some have called the "supernova of a generation"—astronomers have the most detailed picture yet of how this kind of explosion happens. Known as a Type Ia supernova, this type of blast is an essential tool that allows scientists to measure the expansion of the universe and understand the very nature of the cosmos.

More Clues in the Hunt for the Higgs

Physicists have announced that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has produced yet more tantalizing hints for the existence of the Higgs boson. The European Center for Nuclear Research  in Geneva, the international team of thousands of scientists—including many from Caltech—unveiled for the first time all the data taken over the last year from the two main detectors at the LHC, the Compact Muon Solenoid and ATLAS. The results represent the largest amount of data ever presented for the Higgs search.

High-Energy Physicists Set Record for Network Data Transfer

Researchers have set a new world record for data transfer, helping to usher in the next generation of high-speed network technology. The international team was able to transfer data in opposite directions at a combined rate of 186 gigabits per second (Gbps) in a wide-area network circuit. The rate is equivalent to moving two million gigabytes per day, fast enough to transfer nearly 100,000 full Blu-ray disks—each with a complete movie and all the extras—in a day.

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