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  • Astrophysics and Cosmology

    Berkeley astrophysics interests include the origin and evolution of the Universe and its constituent galaxies, stars, and planets.  Berkeley has been a major center for modern cosmology, with Nobel Prizes awarded for our efforts on the cosmic microwave background and the constraints it places on dark matter, and for the use of Type I supernovae as standard candles, establishing the existence of dark energy.  We are leaders in direct searches for dark matter, deeply involved with the G2 experiments LZ, SuperCDMS, and ADMX.  Theory interests focus on the exploitation and analysis of large data sets to constrain cosmological models, the phenomenology of dark matter, simulations of explosive astrophysical environments, neutrino astrophysics, and multi-messenger astrophysics.  Exoplanets are a major research interest within our sister department of astronomy.

    Our astrophysical research is carried out in the Physics Department, the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), and often in close association with the Astronomy Department and the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics (BCCP).  REU students can choose to do research in any of these facilities.

    Explore Projects

    Prof. Bill Holzapfel
    Students will be engaged in the analysis of data from the South Pole Telescope (SPT). The SPT is a 10-meter dish located at the South Pole which is currently mapping Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) with an unprecedented combination of resolution and sensitivity.  We have recently discovered that emission from some satellites can produce rare detectable signals in the data that we would like to robustly remove [...]
    Prof. Dan McKinsey
    The particle nature of dark matter is not known, but the mass range of MeV/c^2 to GeV/c^2 range is relatively unexplored. Low-background detectors with low energy thresholds may be used to search for nuclear recoils induced by such dark matter particles. Superfluid helium is a promising target for such an experiment, but characterization of its scintillation, phonon, and roton signals is needed at sub-keV energies [...]
    Prof. Saul Perlmutter
    Our research group is working on multiple projects that are measuring the properties of our expanding universe with the goal of understanding the underlying physical laws. Most of the projects design instruments and collect data on supernova explosions in distant galaxies [...]