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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

Astronomers have pushed the Hubble Space Telescope to the very limit of its technical abil...

Pushing the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to the very limit of its technical ability, an international collaboration of astronomers believe they have discovered the oldest and furthest ancient galaxy ever seen. Light from the new object is thought to have taken some 13.2 billion years to reach the telescope, with the age of the Universe itself said to be 13.7 billion years. It's also said to be older than the current record holder, which set the bar by forming 600 million years after the Big Bang.  Read More

NASA's SOFIA airborne observatory has just completed the first of three science flights (A...

NASA has announced that its Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) airborne observatory has just completed its maiden science flight. The flight was undertaken to demonstrate the aircraft's potential to make discoveries about the infrared universe. It's anticipated that the aircraft will allow researchers to extend investigations of discoveries already made by existing space telescopes, as well as make important breakthroughs of its own.  Read More

Simulated lead-lead collisions in ALICE

Physicists from the ALICE detector team have been colliding lead nuclei together at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in an attempt to recreate the conditions in the first few microseconds after the Big Bang. Early results have shown that the quark-gluon plasma created at these energies does not form a gas as predicted, but instead suggest that the very early universe behaved like a hot liquid.  Read More

The ALPHA experiment at CERN

An international collaboration of 15 research institutions have produced and trapped antimatter atoms for the first time ever. The feat was part of the ALPHA experiment, which is being conducted at Switzerland’s CERN particle physics laboratory. It could be a step towards answering one the biggest cosmological questions of all time.  Read More

Conceptual design of the Fermilab holometer

Is reality a 3D hologram of a 2D universe? A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy's Fermilab are trying to take a measurement of the fabric of spacetime to show that there is a finite unit that makes up the universe. To do so, they have created the world's most accurate clock, the holographic interferometer or holometer.  Read More

Illustration of the dipolar variation in the fine-structure constant, alpha, across the sk...

Star Trek’s Scotty was adamant that you “canna change the laws of physics,” but, according to a report from a team of astrophysicists based in Australia and England, that could be exactly what happens in different parts of the universe. The report describes how one of the supposed fundamental constants of Nature appears not to be constant after all. Instead, this 'magic number' known as the fine-structure constant – 'alpha' for short – appears to vary throughout the universe.  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

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