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In this issue:
From the Chief Scientist: SLAC Energy Task Force Town Hall Meeting
From the Director: Biology with Free Electron Lasers
SLAC Researcher Helps Locate Hidden Active Galaxies

SLAC Today

Friday - January 21, 2011

From the Chief Scientist: SLAC Energy Task Force Town Hall Meeting

In the fall, SLAC Director Persis Drell asked me, in my role as chief scientist, to develop a plan for expansion of SLAC's research program by establishing new strategic directions in energy-related research. We agreed that this could include the integration of separate projects into a larger coordinated effort with defined goals and stronger and sustained support, a major expansion of existing research, creation of entirely new research in areas of strategic importance, and we should also consider options for partnering with other national labs and industry, as well as for research infrastructure development. 

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From the Director:
Biology with Free Electron Lasers

(Photo - Persis Drell)
(Photo by Linda Cicero.)

This week Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory hosted a workshop that brought together biologists, scientists and users from the Linac Coherent Light Source and others to discuss the opportunities to do biology at free electron lasers. Against the backdrop of the outstanding early performance of LCLS and the beautiful data that was taken last year, a lively series of talks focused on the emerging opportunities and challenges for experiments in biology offered by X-ray free electron lasers. 

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(Photo)
In extremely obscured active galactic nuclei, the disk and torus surrounding the black hole are so deeply obscured by gas and dust that no visible light and very little X-ray light escapes, making them very difficult to detect. (Image: NASA/Aurore Simonnet, Sonoma State University.)

Researchers Uncover Hidden Active Galaxies

Researchers from the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at SLAC and the Max Planck Institute in Germany have confirmed that a high number of X-ray sources, thought to be massive black holes, are deeply hidden in our local universe. Obscured by dust and gas, the objects are difficult to spot from Earth.

"People expected that more of these [hidden black holes] should exist, and this confirms it," said KIPAC physicist Marco Ajello.

To human eyes, the night sky looks like a dark canvas, punctured with many pinpoints of light. But seen in X-rays, the sky fills with a permeating glow. That glow is known as the cosmic X-ray background, and astronomers are working hard to find its source.

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