The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, or WMAP, has been gathering information about the Big Bang, dark matter, and the nature of the universe for nine years now, and it's finally being put to rest (rest being a "parking orbit" around the sun).
A particularly mind-bending (and controversial) physics paper surfaced in the past week that should make you feel pretty special. It seems the laws of physics can change after all, and it just so happens they're uniquely suited for us right here, right now.
Results from the largest and most ambitious survey of the cosmos ever undertaken by the Hubble Space Telescope are in, and the findings are commensurately big, suggesting dark energy is indeed real, and the general theory of relativity holds up even under larger intergalactic scrutiny.
First came dark matter, the gravitational source from within our galaxy that astronomers couldn't see. Then came dark energy, the undetectable force pushing the expansion of the universe. Now, NASA scientists believe they have confirmed a new player, dubbed "dark flow," that is dragging hundreds of galaxies along the same path. Even stranger, the researchers believe that dark flow is actually the gravitational pull from matter beyond the edge of the known universe.
Everyone loves a good road movie, whether it's Hope and Crosby or Fonda and Hopper. But the scope of those films pales in comparison to the ground covered by the Hayden Planetarium's new video, The Known Universe. The video starts in Tibet and zooms out through time and space until it shows well, the entire known universe.
Europe's Euclid space telescope could pick up on distorted light from distant galaxies, and pick up clues on the existence of dark energy.
S. Colombi (IAP), CFHT Team
Dark energy may not have much in common with aliens, unless there's a flotilla of freaky monoliths out there with really weird physical properties. But astrophysicists hope to build a two-in-one space telescope that can search for signs of dark energy along with exoplanets.
While Robert Frost famously said that he prefers the world to end in fire, physicists have long predicted the universe will end with an icy sputter known as "heat death." Heat death occurs when the universe finally uses up all its energy, with all motion stopping and all the atoms in creation grinding to a halt. And, based on new calculations from a team of Australian physicists, it looks like heat death is far closer than previously thought.
A 100-ton antenna has arrived at a plateau in the Chilean Andes as the first piece of the world's largest astronomical observatory. The ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is designed to observe light with millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths -- between infrared light and radio waves – and help astronomers see light from some of the coldest and most distant objects at the edge of the observable universe.