Photokina 2014 highlights

Universe

Hubble Ultra Deep Field, showing thousands of galaxies back to a time only a few hundred m...

It is dangerous to bet against Einstein. Cosmological research shows that the rate at which the Universe expands is increasing, rather than decreasing as was previously thought. The concept of "dark energy" with a negative pressure was introduced to describe this acceleration. Now measurements of the proton to electron mass ratio (PEMR) over the past seven billion years strongly suggest that the models of dark energy are far more contrived in explaining accelerating expansion than is Einstein's self-proclaimed "biggest blunder" – the cosmological constant.  Read More

Distant galaxy lensed by Cluster MACS J0647 (Image: NASA)

NASA's Hubble telescope has discovered the most distant object yet seen in the universe. The object, a galaxy called MACS0647-JD, is 13.3 billion light years from Earth and can only be seen with the help of a lens of intergalactic proportions. The light from MACS0647-JD left it only 420 million years after the Big Bang, so it provides a valuable look into the nature of the early universe.  Read More

The Spitzer space telescope has peered through dust and gas to establish a new value for t...

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

Astronomers have assembled a new, improved portrait of our deepest-ever view of the Univer...

NASA scientists have directed the Hubble Space Telescope to inspect a tiny patch of sky with an unusually long exposure time to obtain the deepest image of the sky ever obtained. The image, dubbed the Hubble Extreme Deep Field (XDF), reveals the faintest and most distant galaxies ever detected, shedding more light on the early history of the universe.  Read More

Vignettes from the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image. 'Space is big. You just won't believe ho...

In mankind's attempts to gain some understanding of this marvelous place in which we live, we have slowly come to accept some principles to help guide our search. One such principle is that the Universe, on a large enough scale, is homogeneous, meaning that one part looks pretty much like another. Recent studies by a group of Australian researchers have established that, on sizes greater than about 250 million light years (Mly), the Universe is indeed statistically homogeneous, thereby reinforcing this cosmological principle.  Read More

Sugar molecules in the gas surrounding a young Sun-like star (Image: ALMA/L. Calçada & NAS...

Using the latest-generation Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), which is an advanced system of 64 radio-telescope antennas in northern Chile, scientists at the European Southern Observatory have discovered a simple form of sugar orbiting a small binary star. Known as 16293-2422, that star is only 400 light-years away, and has about the same mass as the Sun. The finding could shed light on how the building blocks of life can originate spontaneously in deep space, even without a planet to support them.  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

Galaxy BX442 and its companion dwarf galaxy, on the top-right side (Image: Joe Bergen/Dunl...

When astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to scout a remote patch of the sky and investigate the early stages of galaxy formation, they stumbled upon something which they did not expect. They realized that the distant spiral galaxy BX422, appearing to us as it was only three billion years after the Big Bang, seems to be uncharacteristically well-formed for its young age. By studying its features, which are in direct contrast with our current knowledge of galaxy formation, scientists hope to shed more light on how spiral galaxies – including our own – are formed.  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

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