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Astrophysics

— Space

Earth-sized virtual telescope to study supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way

By - April 29, 2015 3 Pictures
In astronomy, much like many other other aspects of life, bigger is better. Taking this adage to heart, astronomers at the University of Arizona are helping to build a virtual radio telescope the size of the Earth itself. With a resolution factor more than a thousand times greater than that of the Hubble Space Telescope, the new Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) will be used to study in fine detail the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way. Read More
— Space

Scientists find brightest night light circling impossibly huge black hole

By - February 27, 2015 4 Pictures
Astronomers have discovered a distant, massive and ancient black hole that calls into question current models for the early expansion of the universe. A team of scientists from China and Arizona spotted the brightest quasar from the early universe, named SDSS J0100+2802, centered on a black hole 12.8 billion light years away and as bright as 420 trillion suns. Read More
— Space

Detection of super-Earth transit puts ground-based telescopes in the hunt

By - December 2, 2014 1 Picture
When you're hunting for exoplanets many light years away, the complications posed by the Earth's atmosphere can make the search incredibly difficult for ground-based telescopes. That's why space-based telescopes, such as Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler, are generally employed for the job. But now for the first time, astronomers have detected the transit of a super-Earth in front of a nearby Sun-like star, which could see ground-based telescopes more widely used in categorizing the growing number of exoplanets expected to be discovered in the next few years. Read More
— Space

Scientists plan on turning the Moon into a giant particle detector

By - September 30, 2014 1 Picture
What is the Moon good for? Aside from inspiring poets, helping you see at night, and giving Neil Armstrong some place for a stroll, what can you do with it? If you ask scientists at the University of Southampton, they’ll tell you that it makes a cracking particle detector. With the help of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope, the team hopes to use the mass of the satellite to detect the most energetic particles known; Ultra-High-Energy (UHE) cosmic rays. Read More
— Space

Determining the age of stars with sound waves

By - July 7, 2014 1 Picture
One of the long-standing difficulties in astrophysics has been a way to accurately determine the age of a star. Brand new stars are obvious from their location in or near "star nurseries" of interstellar gas and dust, and "adult" stars can be roughly characterized through various methods, including a calculation based on their mass and luminosity. Unfortunately, these methods are approximations at best. Researchers at KU Leuven's Institute for Astronomy have now discovered a way to distinguish young stars from older ones by measuring the acoustic waves that they emit using ultrasound technology. Read More
— Science

Scientists observe cosmic inflation and quantum gravity in the Big Bang

By - March 17, 2014 7 Pictures
In a discovery that has profound implications for our understanding about the beginnings of the universe, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics this morning announced evidence of so-called primordial B-modes in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). These B-modes directly show quantum gravitational waves originating during the inflationary period of cosmic evolution, from about 10-36 sec to 10-32 sec after the Big Bang, and give us a direct view of physical processes taking place at 1016 GeV – a trillion times more energetic than particle collisions at the Large Hadron Collider. Read More
— Science

Do the largest structures in the Universe actually exist?

By - November 20, 2013 4 Pictures
Our knowledge of the large-scale structure of the Universe is gradually taking shape. However, our improved vision is mostly being statistically squeezed from huge data sets. Working backward from a statistical analysis to a putative fact about the (singular) Universe, to which statistics do not apply on a cosmological scale, is a dicey business. A case in point is a recent look at the biggest known structures in the Universe – large quasar groups. Read More
— Science

Got eyes? Help find gravitational lenses!

By - May 15, 2013 5 Pictures
Gravitational lenses, which are massive galaxies or galaxy clusters that act as a magnifying glass by bending light passing them, are one of the Universe's golden gifts to astronomers. To help unlock the mysteries that might lie behind these untapped celestial resources, Zooniverse, a program of the Citizens Science Alliance, has begun the Space Warps project. It allows citizen scientists to put their skills at pattern/image recognition to use, toward finding these fugitive gravitational lenses. Read More
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