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cosmology

Art for "A Short History of the Missing Universe"
Abstractions blog

A Short History of the Missing Universe

September 19, 2018

Astronomers have known where the universe’s missing matter has been hiding for the past 20 years. So why did it take so long to find it?

Abstractions blog

A New Test for the Leading Big Bang Theory

September 11, 2018

Cosmologists have predicted the existence of an oscillating signal that could distinguish between cosmic inflation and alternative theories of the universe’s birth.

astrophysics

The Last of the Universe’s Ordinary Matter Has Been Found

September 10, 2018

For decades, astronomers weren’t able to find all of the atomic matter in the universe. A series of recent papers has revealed where it’s been hiding.

Art for "Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory"
theoretical physics

Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory

August 9, 2018

A controversial new paper argues that universes with dark energy profiles like ours do not exist in the “landscape” of universes allowed by string theory.

Photo of the sun
Abstractions blog

What Is the Sun Made Of and When Will It Die?

July 5, 2018

If and when physicists are able to pin down the metal content of the sun, that number could upend much of what we thought we knew about the evolution and life span of stars.

Illustration of a galaxy simulation.
cosmology

The Universe Is Not a Simulation, but We Can Now Simulate It

June 12, 2018

Computer simulations have become so accurate that cosmologists can now use them to study dark matter, supermassive black holes and other mysteries of the real evolving cosmos.

Photo of inside the MiniBooNE tank
Abstractions blog

Evidence Found for a New Fundamental Particle

June 1, 2018

An experiment at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago has detected far more electron neutrinos than predicted — a possible harbinger of a revolutionary new elementary particle called the sterile neutrino, though many physicists remain skeptical.

Photo of Large Magellan Cloud rotating clockwise.
Abstractions blog

What Astronomers Are Learning From Gaia’s New Milky Way Map

May 8, 2018

A roundup of some of the most important discoveries gleaned so far from the Gaia space observatory’s new map of the galaxy.

Lede art for "A Radically Conservative Solution for Cosmology’s Biggest Mystery": This Hubble image shows RS Puppis, a type of variable star known as a Cepheid variable. As variable stars go, Cepheids have comparatively long periods— RS Puppis, for example, varies in brightness by almost a factor of five every 40 or so days. RS Puppis is unusual; this variable star is shrouded by thick, dark clouds of dust enabling a phenomenon known as a light echo to be shown with stunning clarity. These Hubble observations show the ethereal object embedded in its dusty environment, set against a dark sky filled with background galaxies.
Abstractions blog

A Radically Conservative Solution for Cosmology’s Biggest Mystery

May 1, 2018

Two ways of measuring the universe’s expansion rate yield two conflicting answers. Many point to the possibility of new physics at work, but a new analysis argues that unseen errors could be to blame.