Department of Physics and Astronomy

Long Ago, Far Away and Hard to See

The ancestors of galaxy clusters, the largest structures in the universe, have been identified by a team of astronomers including Brian Lemaux, who is affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Physics and Astronomy. Galaxies in the newly identified protoclusters are surprisingly sparse and dim, which may be why they have been so difficult to find until now. The work was published June 15 in Nature. The first galaxy clusters formed as matter began to clump together after the Big Bang. Galaxies formed within them and eventually, clusters and superclusters contained thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity. Conditions inside the cluster influence the size, shape and color of galaxies.

‘Secrets’ in the Multiverse

To uncover something new, first you must look far into the past. That’s what the producers of the IMAX film Secrets of the Universe did, explaining how physics professor Manuel Calderón de la Barca Sánchez’s hunt for answers about what happened moments after the dawn of time is built upon scientific discoveries of the past.

Three College Faculty Honored for Teaching

The UC Davis Academic Senate and Academic Federation recently announced their annual awards given to members for exceptional research, teaching and mentoring, and public service. Three faculty members in the College of Letters and Science have been recognized.

Asteroid Named for UC Davis Astronomer Tony Tyson

Asteroid 179223 was officially named Tonytyson in February in honor of Tyson’s vision and leadership in building the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. Scheduled to start full science observations in 2024, the Rubin Observatory will image the entire visible night sky every three nights for 10 years.

New Ways to Understand Collective Behavior

When a flock of birds or a school of fish turn and act as one, they are exhibiting collective behavior. The same kind of behavior can be seen in something as simple as a group of cancer cells. Understanding how individuals can spontaneously act together in this way can give insights into biology from animal behavior to disease processes, as well as into phenomena such as traffic patterns.

Faculty Members Honored With Chancellor’s Fellowships

Four faculty members in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science have been named Chancellor’s Fellows for excellence in research, teaching and service. The college's newest fellows include an expert on intellectual property in the digital age; a scholar examining how mathematical knot theory can be used to understand natural phenomena; a psychologist studying the interface between research questions and statistical models; and a specialist using geometries to understand the interactions between subatomic particles.

Discovering STEM Careers Through Undergraduate Internships

Two students in the College of Letters and Sciences gained real-world experience through virtual internships on research and technology projects in fall 2021. They were among 148 undergraduates who interned at national laboratories through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships program. Here are their stories, plus advice on finding internships as an undergraduate.

UC Davis Leads $3.7M Multicampus Grant to Stem Shortage of Instrumental Physicists

There is an alarming shortfall of particle physicists prepared to design instruments that open pathways to Nobel Prize-winning discoveries like neutrino oscillations and the Higgs boson. To help fill the gap, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $3.7 million to a consortium led by the University of California, Davis, to train 32 graduate students in high energy physics instrumentation.

New, Third Type of Supernova Observed

An international team of astronomers has observed the first example of a new type of supernova. The discovery, confirming a prediction made four decades ago, could lead to new insights into the life and death of stars.