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Posts Tagged ‘astronomy’

BOSS Quasars Track the Expanding Universe – the Most Precise Measurement Yet

April 7, 2014

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) pioneered the use of quasars to chart the universe’s expansion and investigate the properties of dark energy through studies of large-scale structure. New techniques of analysis led by Berkeley Lab scientists, combined with other new BOSS quasar measures of the young universe’s structure, have produced the most precise measurement of expansion since galaxies formed.

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Standard-Candle Supernovae are Still Standard, but Why?

March 3, 2014

Until recently, scientists thought they knew why Type Ia supernovae – the best cosmological “standard candles” – are all so much alike. But their favorite scenario was wrong. White dwarfs don’t all reach the Chandrasekhar limit, 1.4 times the mass of our sun, before they detonate in a massive thermonuclear explosion. Most Type Ia progenitors are less massive, and a few are even more massive. New work by the Berkeley Lab-based Nearby Supernova Factory can identify which theories of the strange circumstances that lead to a Type Ia explosion actually work and which don’t.

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BOSS Measures the Universe to One-Percent Accuracy

January 8, 2014

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), the largest component of the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey, has measured the clustering of nearly 1.3 million galaxies spectroscopically to determine the “standard ruler” of the universe’s large-scale structure to within one percent. This is the most precise such measurement ever made and is likely to establish the standard for years to come.

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Searching for Cosmic Accelerators Via IceCube

November 21, 2013

New results from IceCube, the neutrino observatory buried at the South Pole, may show the way to locating and identifying cosmic accelerators in our galaxy that are 40 million times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

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Unusual Supernova is Doubly Unusual for Being Perfectly Normal

June 19, 2013

Type Ia supernovae are indispensable milestones for measuring the expansion of the universe. With definitive measures of Supernova 2011fe, the same “Backyard Supernova” that thrilled amateur and professional astronomers alike in the summer of 2011, the Nearby Supernova Factory led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory demonstrates that this unusually close-by Type Ia is such a perfect example of its kind that future Type Ia’s – and models meant to explain their physics – must be measured against it.

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Planck Mission Updates the Age of the Universe and What it Contains

March 21, 2013

At a March 21 NASA telephone news conference, scientists from the U.S. team participating in the European Space Agency’s Planck mission to map the cosmic microwave background (CMB) discussed Planck’s first cosmological results, including some surprising news. For one thing, the universe is 13.82 billion years old, a hundred million years older than previously thought, [...]

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The Last Big Bump Before a Supernova Explodes

February 6, 2013

The Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) brings together universities, observatories, and one national laboratory to hunt for supernovae and other astronomical objects. At the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) Berkeley Lab processes and stores the data from PTF’s surveys, which use the Oschin Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory.
On August 25, 2010, PTF’s “autonomous machine-learning [...]

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Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Gives a Big Boost to BigBOSS

December 4, 2012

Through UC Berkeley and the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has made a $2.1 million grant to Berkeley Lab’s BigBOSS project. The grant funds the development of key technologies for modifying the 4-meter Mayall Telescope on Kitt Peak and constructing a precision instrument to study dark energy by mapping tens of millions of galaxies and quasars over the entire Northern Hemisphere sky.

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Berkeley Lab Sensors Enable First Light for the Dark Energy Camera

September 17, 2012

Mounted on a telescope high in the Andes, the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) saw first light September 12. DECam’s half-billion-pixel focal plane is made of Berkeley Lab CCDs, descended from sensors developed for high-energy physics by Berkeley Lab scientists and engineers. Highly sensitive to the near-infrared region of the spectrum, Berkeley Lab CCDs are an essential component of the most powerful dark-energy survey instrument yet made.

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Supernovae of the Same Brightness, Cut From Vastly Different Cosmic Cloth

August 23, 2012

The multi-institutional Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) team presents the first-ever direct observations of a Type 1a supernova progenitor system. Astronomers have collected evidence indicating that the progenitor system of a Type 1a supernova, called PTF 11kx, contains a red giant star. They also show that the system previously underwent at least one much smaller nova eruption before it ended its life in a destructive supernova.

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