Caltech Scientist Proposes Explanation for Puzzling Property of Night-Shining Clouds at the Edge of Space

An explanation for a strange property of noctilucent clouds--thin, wispy clouds hovering at the edge of space at 85 km altitude--has been proposed by an experimental plasma physicist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), possibly laying to rest a decades-long mystery.

MacArthur Foundation Names Alexei Kitaev Latest Caltech "Genius"

Alexei Kitaev, a California Institute of Technology (Caltech) faculty member, has been named a MacArthur Fellow, winning one of the five-year, $500,000 grants that are awarded annually to creative, original individuals and that are often referred to as the "genius" awards.

Caltech Astronomers Describe the Bar Scene at the Beginning of the Universe

Bars abound in spiral galaxies today, but this was not always the case. A group of 16 astronomers, led by Kartik Sheth of NASA's Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, has found that bars tripled in number over the past seven billion years, indicating that spiral galaxies evolve in shape.

Rare 'Star-making Machine' Found in Distant Universe

Astronomers have uncovered an extreme stellar machine -- a galaxy in the very remote universe pumping out stars at a surprising rate of up to 4,000 per year. In comparison, our own Milky Way galaxy turns out an average of just 10 stars per year.

LIGO Observations Probe the Dynamics of the Crab Pulsar

The search for gravitational waves has revealed new information about the core of one of the most famous objects in the sky: the Crab Pulsar in the Crab Nebula. An analysis by the international LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) Scientific Collaboration to be submitted to Astrophysical Journal Letters has shown that no more than 4 percent of the energy loss of the pulsar is caused by the emission of gravitational waves.

Astrophysicist Wins One of First Kavli Prizes

Quasars--now known to be compact halos of matter that surround the massive black holes of distant galaxies--were once thought to be stars in our own galaxy. Now, Maarten Schmidt, who showed that quasars are thousands of millions of light-years away from Earth, has been named one of the first recipients of the $1 million Kavli Prize for his contributions to the field of astrophysics.

Stellar Death Caught in the Act

Astronomers for the first time have caught a star in the act of exploding. Astronomers have previously observed thousands of stellar explosions, known as supernovae, but they have always seen them after the fireworks were well underway.

Thirty-Meter Telescope Focuses on Two Candidate Sites

After completing a worldwide survey unprecedented in rigor and detail of astronomical sites for the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), the TMT Observatory Corporation board of directors has selected two outstanding sites, one in each hemisphere, for further consideration. Cerro Armazones lies in Chile's Atacama Desert, and Mauna Kea is on Hawai'i Island.

Caltech Helps Open the Universe in "WorldWide Telescope"

Panoramic images of the sky obtained at Palomar Observatory and by the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), plus pointed observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope, form a significant part of the "World Wide Telescope" (WWT), a new product released today by Microsoft aimed at bringing exploration of the Universe and its many wonders to the general public.

A New Take on Microbrewing

Since Babylonian times, a still has provided the means to turn grain, fruit, or vegetables into an intoxicating drink. Today, a still may provide a solution to the more complex problem of how to detect diseases.

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