Astronomers gather clues about unseen cataclysmic collisions
September 14th, 2020
Two large international collaborations of astronomers joined forces to look for light from some of the most cataclysmic events – the collisions of a neutron star and black hole. They did not find it this time, but the scientific journey has provided important insights on how to better hunt for these colossal, yet elusive phenomena in the future.
ZTF Finds Closest Known Asteroid to Fly By Earth
August 19th, 2020
On August 16, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a robotic survey camera located at Palomar Observatory near San Diego, spotted an asteroid that had, just hours earlier, traveled only 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above Earth's surface. Designated 2020 QG, it is the closest known asteroid to fly by Earth without impacting the planet. The previous known record-holder is asteroid 2011 CQ1, discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey in 2011, which passed above Earth about 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) higher than 2020 QG.
Spectacular Ultraviolet Flash May Finally Explain How White Dwarfs Explode
July 23rd, 2020
For just the second time ever, astrophysicists have spotted a spectacular flash of ultraviolet (UV) light accompanying a white dwarf explosion. An extremely rare type of supernova, the event is poised to offer insights into several long-standing mysteries, including what causes white dwarfs to explode, how dark energy accelerates the cosmos and how the universe creates heavy metals, such as iron.
Black Hole Collision May Have Exploded with Light
June 25th, 2020
When two black holes spiral around each other and ultimately collide, they send out ripples in space and time called gravitational waves. Because black holes do not give off light, these events are not expected to shine with any light waves, or electromagnetic radiation. But some theorists have come up with ways in which a black hole merger might explode with light. Now, for the first time, astronomers have seen evidence for one of these light-producing scenarios. The press report on this result can be found at https://www.caltech.edu/about/news/black-hole-collision-may-have-exploded-light
Public Data Release 3
June 24th, 2020
The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and IPAC at the California Institute of Technology announce the third ZTF Public Data Release. ZTF is an optical time-domain survey covering the northern sky visible from Palomar Observatory.
First Asteroid Found Inside Orbit of Venus
January 15th, 2020
A rare asteroid orbiting snugly within the inner confines of our solar system has been discovered by Caltech's Zwicky Transient Facility, or ZTF, a survey camera based at Palomar Observatory. The newfound body, named 2020 AV2, is the first asteroid found to orbit entirely within the orbit of Venus.
Public Data Release 2
December 11th, 2019
The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and IPAC at the California Institute of Technology announce the second ZTF Public Data Release. ZTF is an optical time-domain survey covering the northern sky visible from Palomar Observatory.
The Zwicky Transient Facility Begins Nightly Concurrent Observations of TESS Northern Fields
July 27th, 2019
The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) has started to conduct a nightly survey of the TESS fields in g- and r-band. In 2019-2020 all of the 13 northern TESS sectors will be covered by ZTF if accessible from Palomar. In addition to the ZTF alert streams provided by various alert brokers, all ZTF-TESS alerts will be released nightly to the public via ZTF's bucket on Google Cloud in a compressed tarball. ZTF anticipates that light curves for all objects observed concurrently by TESS and ZTF will be made available publicly within one month of the end of a TESS sector observation campaign.
ZTF found Dead Stars Whipping Around Each Other in Minutes
July 25th, 2019
Two dead stars have been spotted whipping around each other every seven minutes. The rare celestial find was made using Caltech's Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a state-of-the-art sky survey at Palomar Observatory that rapidly scans the night skies looking for anything that moves, blinks, or otherwise varies in brightness.
ZTF Spots Asteroid with Shortest Year
July 8th, 2019
Astronomers have spotted an unusual asteroid with the shortest "year" known for any asteroid. The rocky body, dubbed 2019 LF6, is about a kilometer in size and circles the sun roughly every 151 days. In its orbit, the asteroid swings out beyond Venus and, at times, comes closer in than Mercury, which circles the sun every 88 days. 2019 LF6 is one of only 20 known "Atira" asteroids, whose orbits fall entirely within Earth's.
Public Data Release 1
May 8th, 2019
The first public data release of the Zwicky Transient Facility (#ZTF) is out! This release includes data products from the public portion of the survey spanning March to December 2018. Products include ~3.4 million single-exposure images, ~102,000 co-added images, accompanying source catalog files containing ~63 billion sources detected from those images, and ~2 billion light curves constructed from the single-exposure extractions.
Zwicky Transient Facility Nabs Several Supernovae a Night
February 7th, 2019
The results are rolling in from Caltech's newest state-of-the-art sky-surveying camera, which began operations at the Palomar Observatory in March 2018. Called the Zwicky Transient Facility, or ZTF, the new instrument has so far discovered 50 small near-Earth asteroids and more than 1,100 supernovae, and it has observed more than 1 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
Astronomers Find Clues to the Origins of Exploding Dead Stars
February 7th, 2019
Dying stars known as Type Ia supernovae are often referred to as standard candles because they all emit the same, well-known amount of light when they explode and can therefore be used to measure distances in the universe. GROWTH astronomers have now observed a very peculiar Type Ia supernova suggesting that while these dying stars shine equally brightly, they may not all die in the same way.
Asteroid from ‘Rare Species’ Sighted in the Cosmic Wild
February 5th, 2019
Astronomers have discovered an asteroid looping through the inner solar system on an exotic orbit. The unusual object is among the first asteroids ever found whose orbit is confined almost entirely within the orbit of Venus. The asteroid's existence hints at potentially significant numbers of space rocks arcing unseen in uncharted regions nearer to the sun.