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Cosmic

Space

The cosmos created from cinnamon, spice and ... cat hair?

For most of us, spilling some sugar or cinnamon on the glass of our scanner would be an accident. For photographer Navid Barraty, it's art. Barraty uses ordinary food, kitchen staples and other odd bits and pieces along with his Epson scanner to create enchanting cosmic worlds. Pancakes become planets, potatoes become asteroids and cat fur – yes cat fur – helps create a striking nebula. Have a look at this new series and see if you can guess what the images are comprised of – before you read the captions. Read More

Space

New Planck map begins to unlock the secrets of the early universe

ESA's Planck mission is yielding some surprising findings along with a beautiful new map of the Milky Way that breaks down some of the key elements of our galaxy. The telescope spent four years studying the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), a relic from the birth of the universe. The resulting data from this endeavor is now helping us refine how we measure matter, how we understand dark matter and generally just unraveling the secrets of the universe.Read More

Science

App turns a smartphone into a pocket-sized cosmic ray detector

There are all sorts of apps available for smartphones to show atmospheric phenomena like wind speed, temperature, and rainfall along with other observations for tides and phases of the moon. But how about something really cool like an app for measuring the amount of interstellar cosmic radiation hitting the earth? A professor of physics from the University of Wisconsin thought that would be cool as well, and created an app to turn your smartphone into a cosmic ray detector that works in a similar way to those instruments found in high-tech observatories and mega-expensive laboratories. Read More

Space

Scientists plan on turning the Moon into a giant particle detector

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

Science

Distant quasar lights up cosmic web like a neon sign

That the Universe is largely composed of a cosmic web consisting of narrow filaments upon which galaxies and intergalactic gas and dust are concentrated has been known for more than a decade. While a great deal of evidence for this has accumulated, visual evidence has been difficult to find. Astronomers have now photographed what appears to be a segment of a cosmic filament stimulated into fluorescence by irradiation from a nearby quasar. Read More

Science

It's bigger on the inside: Tardis regions in spacetime and the expanding universe

Fans of Doctor Who will be very familiar with the stupefied phrase uttered by all new visitors to his Tardis: "It's...bigger...on the inside." As it turns out, this apparently irrational idea may have something to contribute to our understanding of the universe. A team of cosmologists in Finland and Poland propose that the observed acceleration of the expansion of the universe, usually explained by dark energy or modified laws of gravity, may actually be the result of regions of spacetime that are larger on the inside than they appear from the outside. The researchers have dubbed these "Tardis regions."Read More

Research Watch Feature

Spitzer space telescope observations reveal expansion rate of the Universe

The size and age of our Universe is not only a critically important issue in cosmology, but is also among the most controversial and delicate of the cosmological questions. Infrared observations made using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have now given us the most precise estimate yet of the rate at which our Universe is expanding. The key was not the discovery of a new method for measuring distance. Rather, astronomers discovered how to measure brightness more accurately. The new value for the Hubble constant, good to within three percent, is 74.3 kilometers per second per megaparsec (km/s/Mpc). Read More

Space

IBEX space probe provides a peek at interstellar material

Over the course of a year, NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) scans the entire sky. During February, its instruments are aligned in the correct direction to intercept atoms that have crossed the boundary from interstellar space into our solar system, become caught by the Sun's gravity and slung around the star. This has now allowed IBEX to capture the most complete glimpse of the material that travels in the galactic wind in the space between star systems. The results indicate this material doesn't look like the same material that makes up our solar system.Read More

Science

World's largest neutrino observatory completed in Antarctica

After five years of construction, an international team has put the finishing touches on the University of Wisconsin’s IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Located in Antarctica, the observatory is looking specifically for high-energy neutrinos, which are created in violent cosmic events such as super novae and gamma ray bursts. As neutrinos collide with water molecules in the pitch black, ultra-clear ice, a blue flash of light results, which is detected by the sensors. Ever since neutrinos were discovered in 1956, scientists have hoped to decipher the information these astronomical messengers carry about distant cosmic events and the completion of the observatory marks an important step towards tracing their origins.Read More

Space

Neutrino observatory under Antarctic ice nearing completion

After two decades of planning, the world’s first kilometer-scale neutrino observatory should finally be completed by this December. Named IceCube, it will consist of an array of 5,160 optical sensors embedded within one cubic kilometer of the Antarctic ice shelf – to put the accomplishment in perspective, one of the next-largest such observatories is just 40 cubic meters in size. Its main purpose will be to try to establish, once and for all, the source of cosmic rays.Read More

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