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Universe

Astronomers using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have discovered an unexpected alignment of the spinning axes of supermassive black holes located billions of light-years apart. As if that discovery wasn’t fascinating enough in itself, the team then delved a little deeper, finding that the quasars aren’t just linked to each other, but are also aligned with the large-scale structure of the Universe itself. Read More
Not only does gravity keep us safely on the ground and hold the planets in alignment, but now it may soon get the credit for saving the whole universe. Physicists at the Imperial College London and the Universities of Copenhagen and Helsinki believe that the interaction between Higgs boson particles and gravity had a stabilizing effect on the very early universe, thereby preventing the Big Crunch – a catastrophic collapse into nothing – from occurring shortly after the Big Bang. Read More
A study conducted at the University of Rome and the University of Portsmouth is suggesting that the amount of dark matter in the cosmos, the catalyst that facilitates the creation of new stars and galaxies, is decreasing as it interacts with dark energy. If this is true it would mean that, as time passes, the Universe could be destined to end up a desolate and nearly featureless place (even more so than it already is). Read More
A new study has revealed that our Milky Way is a member of a group of local galaxies interconnected within a larger supercluster made up of a myriad of other galaxies, all interlinked within a tenuous web of filaments many millions of light years long. Dubbed "Laniakea" (Hawaiian for "immense sky") by astronomers working at the National Science Foundation’s (NSF's) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and others around the world, this research defines hitherto unknown boundaries and connections in our corner of the universe. Read More
In what may be one of the most mind-bogglingly surreal experiments ever floated, scientists at the US Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) will attempt to discover if the universe is "real" or merely a holographic 3-D illusion that we just think is real. Using high-powered lasers, the scientists intend to determine if space-time is a quantum system made up of countless tiny bits of information. Read More
In what could be a landmark moment in the history of science, physicists working at the Blackett Physics Laboratory in Imperial College London have designed an experiment to validate one of the most tantalizing hypotheses in quantum electrodynamics: the theory that matter could be created using nothing more than pure light. Read More
As you might expect, the scale and complexities of the underlying physics means creating a realistic virtual universe would require some hefty computing power. A team of astronomers is claiming to have achieved this impressive feat using a computer simulation called "Illustris," which took five years to program and, for the first time, can recreate the evolution of the Universe in high fidelity. Read More
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
A team of astronomers at The Australian National University (ANU) working on a five-year project to produce the first comprehensive digital survey of the southern sky has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe. Just a 6,000 light year astronomical hop, skip and jump from Earth, the ancient star formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Read More
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
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