Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Astroparticle Physics

UCLA has strong research programs in Astronomy and Astrophysics and in Astroparticle Physics. Astronomy and Astrophysics is a division within the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Astroparticle Physics is an interdisciplinary field whose faculty are members of various research groups within the Department: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Experimental Elementary Particle (EEP) physics, and Theoretical Elementary Particle (TEP) physics.

Astronomy and Astrophysics

UCLA offers a number of specialties in this field. Astronomy and astrophysics researchers cover topics such as stellar astronomy, involving studies at the galactic center, star evolution, planet formation. In cosmology our faculty study active galactic nuclei and quasars, infrared astronomy, and Hubble telescope imagery.

UCLA is a major partner in the new National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center For Adaptive Optics. The center, led by U.C. Santa Cruz Professor Jerry Nelson, brings adaptive optics to its full potential both in the field of astronomy and vision science.

Three UCLA astronomy professors (Andrea Ghez, James Larkin and Ian McLean) are leading major programs within the AO Center (CfAO for short). Andrea Ghez is also the Associate Director for Astronomical Science and James Larkin is the Associate Director for Scientific Instrumentation.

Extragalactic studies involves determining the nature of active galactic nuclei and quasars, the dynamics and statistics of galaxy clusters, star formation, infrared spectroscopy and diffraction limited imaging to study nearby active galaxies, star-formation and metal-enrichment histories of galaxies, and the development of galaxy structure.

UCLA has also been involved in the use of infrared astronomy. Spurred by the development of tiny, solid-state imaging devices called infrared arrays, infrared astronomy has undergone a revolution. Astronomers can now obtain electronic images of stars too cool to emit much normal light or too heavily enshrouded in gas and dust for normal light to escape.

Moreover, with the advent of adaptive optics, infrared images can now be obtained at the diffraction limit of the Keck 10-m telescope thus revealing exquisite detail in these hidden regions.

Astroparticle Physics

UCLA has built a strong and very active group in astroparticle physics. Comprising ten faculty members and more than forty researchers overall, the group is involved in experimental and theoretical research in the areas of dark matter, high-energy astrophysics (using gamma rays, cosmic rays and neutrinos), and cosmology.

The research carried out in astroparticle physics at UCLA is at the interface between, and is closely connected to, research in the areas of experimental elementary particle physics (EEP), theoretical elementary particle physics, astroparticle physics & phenomenology (TEPAPP), and astronomy and astrophysics.

In astroparticle theory, the group specializes in a number of interconnected areas of interest. Some areas of research include: investigating the origin of the universe, connecting the world of elementary particles with cosmology and astrophysics, dark matter, the physics of neutrinos, gamma rays and cosmic rays, and the structure of the universe.

UCLA astroparticle experimentalists are involved in the VERITAS, CTA and Fermi-LAT high energy gamma-ray observatories, the Xenon dark matter experiment at Gran Sasso in Italy, the ANITA balloon experiment for ultrahigh energy cosmic neutrinos, the GAPS balloon experiment for cosmic ray antideuterons, and various missions studying the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and the 21cm radiation of hydrogen.