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Department of Physics and Astronomy News

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers comprehensive programs on two of the most basic and fundamental sciences–physics and astronomy. Physics is the study of matter, energy, motion, and force. Its concepts help us understand how the universe behaves. Astronomy studies the universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere, including celestial objects and the formation and development of the universe.

Current Physics and Astronomy News

Artist rendering of NASA Swift Satellite
Research |

Two studies pair observational data with machine learning models to increase precision in distance estimates for GRBs. 

commencement profile (josh hawkins/unlv)
People |

President Keith E. Whitfield honors six graduates who have shown exemplary commitment to both the community and their studies.

students in spring
Campus News |

News highlights starring UNLV students and faculty who made local and national headlines.

AI rendering of binary planets orbiting eachother
Research |

Study in Nature Astronomy theorizes that dense stellar clusters may eject pairs of giant planets, which remain gravitationally bound to one another.

The Las Vegas strip as seen on Super Bowl weekend (Josh Hawkins/UNLV).
Campus News |

A collection of news stories and highlights featuring UNLV students and faculty.

man pictured with ALMA image of the young star HL Tau and its protoplanetary disk
People |

International student Shangjia Zhang lands a highly competitive NASA grant and UNLV graduate fellowship.

Physics and Astronomy In The News


Exoplanets are planets beyond our solar system. To date, more than 5,000 of them have been identified. They are expected to form and orbit around stars, in a similar fashion to planets in our solar system. However, some appear “free-floating” in space, not bound to any host star. The puzzle to their formation was further deepened in fall 2023, when astrophysicists using the James Webb Space Telescope identified massive floating binary objects about the size of Jupiter – and dubbed them JuMBOs (Jupiter-mass binary objects).

Las Vegas Sun

George Rhee, a professor of physics at UNLV, was direct when speaking about the water crisis face the west during a panel discussion on Wednesday at Westgate Las Vegas. ‘“Living in the desert, water is more valuable than gasoline,” said Rhee, the host of a discussion during the Climate Change Preparedness Conference.


A study published in "Nature Astronomy" theoretically believes that dense star clusters may eject pairs of giant planets, but there will still be gravitational bonds between these planets.

Simple Flying

Following a disappointing quarter financially, Southwest Airlines' CEO admitted that the airline was looking into new revenue iniatives.

Space Daily

Astronomers have been captivated by the recent identification of what might be a novel category of "free-floating" planets, unveiled through remarkable images from the James Webb Space Telescope. These planets, named Jupiter-mass Binary Objects (JuMBOs), appear to orbit each other without being tethered to any star, challenging long-held beliefs about planetary system formation.


At the end of 2023, astronomers made a startling discovery in the Orion Nebula. Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the team found 40 pairs of planetary mass objects — none of which orbit a star. They're called Jupiter-Mass Binary Objects, or JuMBOs.

Physics and Astronomy Experts

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Recent Physics and Astronomy Accomplishments

During the spring 2024 semester, Yan Zhou (Physics and Astronomy) was invited to present his research on quantum sensors and information at: Center of Fundamental Physics colloquium, Northwestern University, February 2024. ECT (European Center for Theoretical studies in nuclear physics and related areas) workshop, Trento, Italy, March …
Bernard Zygelman (Physics and Astronomy) presented the April 9 Pittsburgh Quantum Institute (PQI) seminar titled "Effective Magnetic Monopoles, Molecular Dynamics, and Holonomic Quantum Computing" in addition to the U. Pittsburgh Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) undergraduate colloquium, "The Second Quantum Revolution." Zygelman…
Ph.D. candidate Shangjia Zhang (Physics and Astronomy) has been selected as a 2024 NASA Hubble Fellow. The NASA Hubble Fellowship Program supports promising postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research that contributes to NASA Astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development.  Zhang's work was…
Carrie Coppa (Physics and Astronomy) was nominated for and recently graduated the Administrative Academy Academy Path C.  The UNLV Administrative Assistant Academy is a training series designed to foster a culture of continuous improvement for all administrative assistants. The eight-week program outlines six competencies that UNLV…
Zhaohuan Zhu (Physics and Astronomy) with UNLV’s Nevada Center for Astrophysics is part of an international research team that recently published findings and images supporting the theory of gravitational instability in planet formation. Zhu, a co-author on an article published July 25 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, had published…
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) recently held their 241st AAS meeting in Seattle, Washington. During the meeting students from across the nation participated in the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Poster Competition where students present their posters and are judged by volunteer judges.  Margaret Johnston (Physics and…