Caltech Astronomers Crack the Puzzle of Cosmic Gamma-Ray Bursts

A team of Caltech astronomers has pinpointed a gamma-ray burst several billion light-years away from the Milky Way. The team was following up on a discovery made by the Italian/Dutch satellite BeppoSAX.

Caltech Astronomer Obtains Data That Could Resolve the "Age Problem"

Dr. Neill Reid, using information collected by the European Space Agency's Hipparcos satellite, has determined that a key distance measure used to compute the age of certain Milky Way stars is off by 10 to 15 percent. The new data leads to the conclusion that the oldest stars are actually 11 to 13 billion years old, rather than 16 to 18 billion years old, as had been thought.

Renowned Physicist Robert B. Leighton Dies

PASADENA—Robert B. Leighton, a longtime physicist and astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, died Sunday, March 9, 1997, after a long illness. He was 77.

Caltech Astronomers Obtain the Most Detailed Infared Image of the Environment of an Active Black Hole

TORONTO — Sophisticated imaging techniques applied on the Keck Telescope have uncovered a new structure in a nearby active galaxy.

The image and associated research are being presented today at the semiannual meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Alycia Weinberger, a doctoral student in physics at the California Institute of Technology, and her collaborators have used the computer-intensive technique of speckle imaging and the 10-meter W. M. Keck Telescope atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to image the nucleus of NGC 1068.

Fairchild Foundation Awards $2.5 Million to Caltech Physics and Astronomy

PASADENA—The Sherman Fairchild Foundation has awarded $2.5 million to the California Institute of Technology to support postdoctoral researchers in physics and astronomy.

The gift, which extends over eight years, will support six scientists in theoretical physics or astrophysics, five in observational optical-infrared astronomy, and two in experimental physics, astrophysics, or radio astronomy. The first contingent of Sherman Fairchild Scholars will begin their term at Caltech in the fall of 1996.

Astronomers Find Elusive Primeval Galaxies

PASADENA—A group of astronomers has identified the most distant population of normal galaxies yet found. Using a new technique designed to isolate large numbers of extremely distant, young galaxies, the scientists have discovered what are very likely the progenitors of the bright galaxies—spirals and ellipticals—seen today. They observed the galaxies at a time very soon after they first formed, roughly 10 billion years ago, at redshifts between 3.0 and 3.5.

Scientists Report Interactions Between Individual Photons: First Step Toward a Quantum Computer

PASADENA—Caltech physicists have demonstrated that individual photons, which normally do not interact, can strongly influence each other when brought together with an atom inside an optical cavity.

This result—interactions between single photons—could be used to make information processing devices that employ quantum-mechanical effects to improve their performance. Further, these devices could form the building blocks needed to construct a "quantum computer," a theoretical machine that, researchers believe, could outperform any computer based on conventional technology.

Physicists Observe Alteration in Fundamental Interaction of Light and Matter

PASADENA—Scientists recently reported the first experimental observation of the modification of the fundamental interaction between light and matter, a change brought about by illuminating trapped cesium atoms with manifestly quantum, or nonclassical, light.

Scientists refer to the interplay of light and matter as fundamental atomic radiative processes. These processes span the range from the linear absorption and scattering familiar from everyday optics to nonlinear interactions on which for example the laser is based.

International Astrophysics Symposium to Honor Willy Fowler

PASADENA—An international symposium on nuclear astrophysics will be held in honor of the late Nobel laureate Willy Fowler, December 14 to 16 at Caltech.

Astronomers Announce Discovery of Extremely Distant Quasars

PASADENA—Astronomers have discovered 16 new extremely distant quasars, the result of a search made nearly 40 times more efficient than previously possible by applying artificial intelligence to the new Palomar digital sky survey. This novel technique allows researchers to study more easily the formation of quasars and large-scale structures in the early universe.

"This is one of the first successful major applications of artificial intelligence techniques in astronomy and space science," said Usama Fayyad, a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

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