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Astronomers Discover a Black Hole Ripping a Star Apart

Marcus Woo

Astronomers—including several from Caltech—have discovered a black hole millions of times more massive than the sun that's tearing a star to shreds.




New LIGO Executive Director Named

Kathy Svitil

David Reitze has been named executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), designed and operated by Caltech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Reitze has also been named a senior research associate at Caltech.


Astronomers Find Ice and Possibly Methane on Snow White, a Distant Dwarf Planet

Marcus Woo

Astronomers at Caltech have discovered that the dwarf planet 2007 OR10—nicknamed Snow White—is an icy world, with about half its surface covered in water ice that once flowed from ancient, slush-spewing volcanoes. The new findings also suggest that the red-tinged dwarf planet may be covered in a thin layer of methane, the remnants of an atmosphere that's slowly being lost into space.


Neutrino Experiment Starts Taking Data

Marcus Woo

A new experiment that will answer fundamental questions about neutrinos, aiming to solve some of the biggest mysteries about the universe—why there's so much more matter than antimatter, for example—is now open for business. About two weeks ago, the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment, lying underground in the mountains of southern China near Hong Kong, began taking data with its first set of twin detectors.


Caltech Researcher Granted Precious Observation Time at NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

Katie Neith

For many astronomers, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is considered the crème de la crème of research tools—one of the best observatories available for their studies. This being the case, competition for time with the telescope can be fierce. But Heather A. Knutson, a recent addition to the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech, will soon get the chance to spend some quality time with the telescope.



A Hint of Higgs: An Update from the LHC

Marcus Woo

The physics world was abuzz with some tantalizing news a couple of weeks ago. At a meeting of the European Physical Society in Grenoble, France, physicists—including some from Caltech—announced that the latest data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) might hint at the existence of the ever-elusive Higgs boson.


Caltech Researchers Find That Disorder Is Key to Nanotube Mystery

Kimm Fesenmaier

In the last couple of years, researchers have observed that water spontaneously flows into extremely small tubes of graphite or graphene, called carbon nanotubes. However, no one has managed to explain why. Now, using a novel method to calculate the dynamics of water molecules, Caltech researchers believe they have solved the mystery. It turns out that entropy, a measurement of disorder, has been the missing key.


A Stellar Admirer

Marcus Woo

Like so many things in life, it all started with a girl. In fifth grade, the girl who sat next to Keith Hawkins every day in class would check out encyclopedias and look up subjects in astronomy, admiring pictures of swirling galaxies and colorful nebulae. Hawkins would join her, and the two of them would sit together and gaze at the heavens, one page at a time.


Caltech-Led Engineers Solve Longstanding Problem in Photonic Chip Technology

Marcus Woo

Stretching for thousands of miles beneath oceans, optical fibers now connect every continent except for Antarctica. But although optical fibers are increasingly replacing copper wires, carrying information via photons instead of electrons, today's computer technology still relies on electronic chips. Now, researchers led by engineers at the Caltech are paving the way for the next generation of computer-chip technology: photonic chips.


Caltech Astronomer Nominated to National Science Board

Marcus Woo

President Barack Obama has nominated Anneila Sargent, vice president for student affairs and the Rosen Professor of Astronomy, to the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation.