High-Energy Astrophysics

Bullet Cluster
The Bullet Cluster, observed with Chandra in X-rays (pink) combined with a dark matter map (blue, derived from weak lensing), along with the optical image shows a supersonic merger taking place in the plane of the sky. The offset between the baryons (X-ray map) and mass (weak lensing map), is a direct proof of the existence of dark matter.

Research Description

From the Sun to Galaxy Clusters and Supermassive Black Holes
High Energy Astrophysics explores energetic events in the Universe with energies extending from the far UV through the keV X-rays and into the Y-ray band. Scientific investigations of objects range from the Sun to distant active galactic nuclei. Research includes studies of the largest scales through wide area surveys. The resources for exploring High Energy Astrophysics at CfA are vast. The two largest areas of investigation exploit the Chandra X-ray Observatory, now in its 13th year and operated by SAO for NASA and a suite of Solar orbital and suborbital missions.

While many projects focus on high energy phenomena, the research is necessarily interdisciplinary, uniting observations across the electromagnetic spectrum along with theoretical calculations and simulations, as well as collaborations with research groups around the world. Examples of recent and ongoing investigations include:

  • Stellar evolution, and determination of the conditions necessary for life
  • Black hole spin – using optical, x-ray, radio, theory
  • Cosmic Ray Acceleration by pulsar wind nebulae
  • Understanding the physics of Gamma Ray Bursts
  • Wide area, and targeted, multi-wavelength surveys to chart the cosmological evolution of SMBHs and the co-evolution of their host galaxies
  • Physics of AGN Feedback in galaxies, groups, and clusters
  • Understanding active galactic nuclei through studies of jets
  • Properties of External Galaxies – ISM, galactic winds, X-ray binary populations
  • Cosmology using the growth of the cluster mass function using X-ray and SZ-selected samples