Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Astrophysics

An artist's impression of a quasar (Image: ESO/MKornmesser)

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

Interstellar gas forming galaxies in EAGLE

Astronomers have created a simulation of the universe that includes more realistic galaxies similar in mass, size and age to real observed galaxies, enabling better research into how the cosmos evolved into its current state over the past 14 billion years.  Read More

Artist's conception shows the Earth (left) compared to the super-Earth 55 Cancri e (right)...

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

The SKA array will detect UHE cosmic rays as they strike the lunar surface (Image: SKA Pro...

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

Researchers used sound wave readings of NGC 2264 to determine the age of stars (Photo: SIR...

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

The BICEP2 facility at the South Pole has discovered compelling evidence for quantized gra...

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

The Universe is big, and so is the challenge of understanding its large-scale structure (P...

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

Massive galaxy LRG 3-757 forms a gravitational lens for a second galaxy (blue ring) at a d...

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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