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Dark Matter

Abell 222/223 galaxies, showing a filament of dark matter stretching between the two galax...

Recently the media has been saturated with overly-hyped reports that NASA's Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) may have detected dark matter. These claims may have some justification if the word "may" is shouted, but they rest on a number of really major assumptions and guesses, some of which are on weak and shifting soil. So just what was seen in the experiment, and what are the possible explanations?  Read More

The newly inaugurated Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope will act as an early warni...

After a long eight-year wait, the building of Australia's Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope has finally reached completion. The radio telescope's first major task will be to investigate the Sun to provide earlier warnings of solar storms that, if left unchecked, could fry satellites and power grids across the globe. The telescope will also be sued to scout the sky for the earliest, most distant galaxies ever detected in an attempt to resolve unanswered questions on the origins of the Universe.  Read More

High-energy particle collision similar to those which may be giving us a glimpse of a new ...

In the mid-1930s, physicists thought they knew all the subatomic particles of nature - the proton, neutron, and electron of the atom. However, in 1936 the muon was discovered - a new particle having such surprising properties that Nobel laureate I.I. Rabi quipped "Who ordered that?" when informed of the discovery. Evidence that a new light boson may exist has recently been published. If the discovery is confirmed, such a boson is not part of the Standard Model of Particle Physics - potentially leading to another "Who ordered that?" moment for physicists.  Read More

Left shows galaxies from AREPO simulation, right shows actual galaxies from Hubble image (...

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

View of a cluster of galaxies spread along a dark matter filament (Photo: SDSS-III)

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

A view of the distribution of dark matter in our universe, based on the Millennium Simulat...

For the first time, a team of astronomers has "observed" a filament of dark matter connecting two neighboring galaxy clusters. Dark matter is a type of matter that interacts only very weakly with light and itself. Its very nature is mysterious. Mapping the dark matter filament's gravity was the key observation. The result is considered a crucial first step by scientists - it provides the first direct evidence that the universe is filled by a lacework of dark matter filaments, upon which the visible matter in the universe is distributed like small beads. This groundbreaking observation is consistent with modern cosmological models, but the story of dark matter actually starts some 80 years ago.  Read More

Upon completion, the E-ELT is expected to be the largest optical telescope in the world

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) council met on Monday in Garching, Germany and approved the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) program, pending the confirmation of ad referendum votes from the authorities of four member states before the next council meeting. Assuming all goes according to plan, the E-ELT is expected to begin operation early in the next decade.  Read More

Majorana fermions might be the sole component of the dark matter in our Universe (Photo:

Physicists at the Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, have achieved a milestone that might soon revolutionize the world of quantum computing, quantum physics, and perhaps shed new light on the mystery of the dark matter in our universe. Experimenting with nanoelectronics, a group led by Prof. Leo Kouwenhoven has succeeded in detecting the elusive Majorana fermion in the laboratory, without the need for a particle accelerator.  Read More

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

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

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