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Dark Energy

Space

Dark Energy Camera captures its first images

The Dark Energy Camera (DEC) has captured an initial batch of images as part of an ongoing quest to afford scientists with a better understanding of dark energy. The images were taken by the 570-megapixel behemoth from its location within the Chilean Andes on September 12 while undergoing a series of tests. Scientists hope it may soon help answer one of the biggest mysteries in physics: why the expansion of the universe is speeding up. Read More

Science

Simulated universe spawns the whole array of galaxies

A new approach for simulating the birth and evolution of galaxies and cosmic filaments within the Universe has been developed by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics together with their colleagues at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies. It's called AREPO, and has been used to simulate the evolution of our Universe from only 380,000 years after the Big Bang to the present. The full variety of spiral, elliptical, peculiar, and dwarf galaxies appear in the simulated Universe. Read More

Science

SDSS takes a trip through the past 12 billion years of our Universe

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is little known to the public, but represents one of the most-challenging efforts in observational cosmology ever attempted. The most recent phase, SDSS-III, began in 2008 and includes the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), a part of SDSS-III aimed at mapping the cosmos. Its goal is to map the physical locations of all major galaxies back to seven billion years ago, and bright quasars back to 12 billion years ago – two billion years after the Big Bang. This is being done so we can gain a better understanding of dark matter and energy, and hopefully encounter a few surprises. Read More

Aircraft

NASA gets two Hubble-class telescopes from the military

NASA’s collection of space telescopes just got a bit bigger thanks to an extraordinary gift from America's National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) intelligence agency. The space agency announced on Monday that the NRO has given it two surplus spy satellites that are more advanced than the Hubble Space Telescope. If the money can be found for a mission for the spy “birds” then NASA will not only have two possible replacements for the retiring Hubble, but also an added ability to scan the skies for supernovae, locate new exoplanets and even seek the answer to the fate of the universe.Read More

Space

European Space Agency selects first two "Cosmic Vision" missions

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

Science

Nobel Prize in Physics goes to expanding-universe researchers

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

Space

Largest-ever cosmological simulation to shed new light on dark matter

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

Aircraft Feature

Final Space Shuttle landing ends a remarkable chapter in space exploration

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

Space

Astronomers use giant magnifying lens in space to probe dark energy

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

Science

World’s faster supercomputer models origins of the unseen universe

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

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