updated 1/26/2010 9:48:25 PM ET 2010-01-27T02:48:25

The California Institute of Technology says physicist Andrew Lange, who conducted award-winning research into the remnants of the Big Bang, has died. He was 52.

Caltech's president notified colleagues and students in an internal e-mail that Lange apparently took his own life Friday.

Pasadena police Detective Lieutenant John Dewar says Lange was found dead, possibly due to asphyxiation, in a room at a hotel where he had checked in. He says it appears to be a suicide.

Lange was co-leader of a project that in 1998 used a telescope carried over Antarctica by a balloon to study the so-called cosmic microwave background — a gas of thermal radiation left over from the embryonic universe.

Project "Boomerang" showed the spatial geometry of the universe is flat and supported theories that it will expand forever and not collapse upon itself.

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