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Dark Energy

ESA has selected the first two missions in its Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Plan, which is desi...

The European Space Agency (ESA) this week announced the first two missions selected for its Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Plan. The first, known as Solar Orbiter, will see a spacecraft operating closer to the Sun than any previous mission with a particular focus on examining the solar wind. The second, Euclid, is essentially a space telescope whose primary goal is to study the accelerating expansion of the universe in an attempt to provide an understanding of the exact nature of dark matter.  Read More

The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2011 has been awarded to three scientists, whose research p...

For almost a hundred years, it has been widely accepted that the Universe is expanding, and that it’s been doing so ever since the Big Bang occurred approximately 14 billion years ago. It was initially assumed that the rate of expansion was slowly declining. What came as a surprise to many scientists, however, was the relatively recent announcement that the rate is in fact increasing. That was the remarkable conclusion reached by three physicists located in two countries, and it has just earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2011.  Read More

A high resolution slice of the whole 250Mpc box of Bolshoi (Made by Stefan Gottlober (AIP)...

The Bolshoi cosmological simulation is by far the most ambitious project of its kind. It harnesses the power of supercomputing to bring cosmology into the realm of experimental sciences. Based on observable input data, the Bolshoi simulation allows scientists to see what the higher structure of our universe might have looked like at particular points in time throughout its formation, arming them with tools that should make cracking the mysteries of dark matter, dark energy and galaxy formation much more feasible.  Read More

At 5:57 a.m. EDT on July 21, 2011, space shuttle Atlantis landed for the final time at NAS...

When the space shuttle Atlantis touched down at 5:57 a.m. EDT this morning at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center it marked the end of an era. Over 30 years, NASA's Space Shuttle program has overseen a total of 135 shuttle missions for the five-shuttle fleet, beginning with the April 12, 1981 launch of Columbia carrying two astronauts into space on an operational test flight. In their lifetimes, the world's first reusable spacecraft have been used to launch and repair satellites, carry out cutting-edge research and facilitate the construction of the largest manmade structure in space, the International Space Station (ISS). As the curtain comes down on the space shuttle era we take a look back at the craft that have defined space travel for a generation.  Read More

The Hubble Space Telescope image of the inner region of Abell 1689, an immense cluster of ...

Dark energy has been described as the greatest puzzle of our universe. This mysterious force, discovered in 1998, is pushing the universe apart at ever-increasing speeds and astronomers have now devised a new method of measuring it. Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers were able to take advantage of a giant magnifying lens in space – a massive cluster of galaxies – to narrow in on the nature of dark energy. Their calculations, when combined with data from other methods, significantly increase the accuracy of dark energy measurements and may eventually lead to an explanation of what the elusive phenomenon really is.  Read More

Our current “Standard Model” of cosmology (left), a model without dark energy, and a warm ...

Scientists have for some time postulated that "dark matter" could partially account for evidence of missing mass in the universe, while the hypothetical form of energy known as "dark energy" is the most popular way to explain recent observations that the universe appears to be expanding at an accelerating rate and accounts for 74 percent of the total mass-energy of the universe according to the standard model of cosmology. To better understand these two mysterious cosmic constituents scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) are using Roadrunner, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to model one of the largest simulations of the distribution of matter in the universe.  Read More

The European XMM-Newton X-ray telescope in Earth orbit 
 (Image: ESA)

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Russia’s Roskosmos space agency are joining forces to try and shed some light on the poorly understood phenomenon referred to as ‘dark energy’. In 2012 the German 'extended Roentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array'(eROSITA) X-ray telescope will be taken into orbit on board the Russian Spektrum Roentgen Gamma (SRG) satellite to start searching for black holes and dark matter in an attempt to answer why the expansion of the universe is accelerating instead of slowing down.  Read More

Artist's rendering showing a NIF target pellet inside a hohlraum capsule with laser beams ...

Lasers, is there anything they can’t do? If they’re not shooting down UAVs, they’re fighting AIDS or bringing us the next generation of HDTVs. That’s all well and good, but when it comes to lasers there’s none bigger than the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California - an instrument capable of delivering 500 trillion watts of power in a 20-nanosecond burst which is now nearing completion. Its myriad uses will include providing fusion data for nuclear weapons simulations, probing the secrets of extrasolar planets and could even lead to the holy grail of energy production - practical fusion energy.  Read More

Birds eye view of the elaborate 3-dimensional model of the European Extremely Large Telesc...

December 13, 2006 The current generation of 4 to 10-m telescopes has an incredible wealth of knowledge about our Universe, with the discovery of hundreds of extra-solar systems and the study of far away galaxies, whose light comes almost from the very first epoch in the Universe when stars and galaxies started to form. Even more breathtaking is the recent evidence that nearly all the content of our Universe is made of dark matter, whose nature is as yet unknown, and dark energy, the very existence of which is presently not understood. These discoveries pose many new questions that future generations of Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs) could answer. The combination of unprecedented acuity and light gathering power will provide unique images of objects at all scales, from those in our own solar system and exoplanetary systems to the very first points of light in our Universe. Moreover, detailed spectral analysis will reveal invaluable information on their nature, motions and characteristics. The first ELT moved a step closer this week when ESO's governing body decided to proceed with a EUR 57 million study for a European Extremely Large Telescope. If all goes to plan, the construction of a 40m diameter optical/infrared telescope will start in three years time, and when finished will revolutionise ground-based astronomy. The chosen design is based on a revolutionary concept specially developed for a telescope of this size.  Read More

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