Astronomers have found celestial objects called quasars that bend and distort the light coming from galaxies behind them. The discovery may finally allow astronomers to determine the masses of galaxies that host quasars.
An international team of physicists—including several from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)—has detected and measured, for the first time, a transformation of one particular type of neutrino into another type. The finding, physicists say, may help solve some of the biggest mysteries about the universe, such as why the universe contains more matter than antimatter—a phenomenon that explains why stars, planets, and people exist at all.
MOSFIRE, a new near-infrared spectrometer is now on its way to the W. M. Keck Observatory, atop Mauna Kea. The instrument 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.
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, 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."
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 from 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.