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Your search has returned 143 articles:
  • Context

    Remembering Joe Polchinski, the modest physicist who conceived a multiverse

    Modesty is not a quality often found in abundance in physicists. Maybe that’s because Joe Polchinski had all of it.

    Substantial ego is arguably a necessary qualification for anyone attempting to wrest nature’s deepest secrets from their mathematical lairs. And in many cases, ego seems proportional to the magnitude of a physicist’s accomplishments. But if you divided Polchinski’s...

    02/27/2018 - 15:01 Cosmology, History of Science
  • News

    The way dwarf galaxies move puts a new spin on galaxy formation

    Small galaxies are playing a game of ring around the rosie. Dwarf galaxies have been caught following each other around the distant galaxy Centaurus A in a coordinated loop, rather than zipping around randomly as theory predicts they should.

    The discovery could spell trouble for standard theories of cosmology, including the role of enigmatic dark matter in galaxy formation, astronomers...

    02/05/2018 - 18:00 Cosmology
  • News

    Universes with no weak force might still have stars and life

    Not all fundamental forces are created equal. An alternate universe that lacks the weak nuclear force — one of the four fundamental forces that govern all matter in our universe — could still form galaxies, stars, planets and perhaps life, according to calculations published online January 18 at arXiv.org.

    Scientists have long thought that our universe wouldn’t exist, or at least wouldn’...

    01/30/2018 - 07:00 Astronomy, Cosmology, Particle Physics
  • News

    Clumps of dark matter could be lurking undetected in our galaxy

    Clumps of dark matter may be sailing through the Milky Way and other galaxies.

    Typically thought to form featureless blobs surrounding entire galaxies, dark matter could also collapse into smaller clumps — similar to normal matter condensing into stars and planets — a new study proposes. Thousands of collapsed dark clumps could constitute 10 percent of the Milky Way’s dark matter,...

    01/26/2018 - 09:00 Particle Physics, Cosmology
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers wonder about the universe's expansion and more

    Pedal to the universal metal

    Some cosmologists hope to explain the universe’s accelerating expansion by fully accounting for the universe’s lumpiness, Emily Conover reported in “Simulating the universe using Einstein’s theory of gravity may solve cosmic puzzles” (SN: 11/25/17, p. 22).

    The universe’s accelerating expansion “is apparently based on the observation of objects that are...

    01/24/2018 - 13:34 Cosmology, Archaeology, Astronomy
  • News

    White dwarf’s inner makeup is mapped for the first time

    Astronomers have probed the inner life of a dead star. Tiny changes in a white dwarf’s brightness reveal that the stellar corpse has more oxygen in its core than expected, researchers report online January 8 in Nature. The finding could challenge theories of how stars live and die, and may have implications for measuring the expansion of the universe.

    By the end of a sunlike star’s life...

    01/08/2018 - 11:00 Astronomy, Cosmology
  • The Name Game

    86 stars get official names

    In December, astronomers and space enthusiasts received an early present: 86 newly official star names.

    Such designations are often derived from Arabic, Greek or Latin origins. But the new monikers also draw inspiration from ancient mythologies and historical star names from indigenous cultures around the world, including in China, Australia and southern Africa. The star names were...

    01/02/2018 - 09:00 Astronomy, Cosmology, Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    The most distant quasar ever spotted hails from the universe’s infancy

    The most distant quasar yet spotted sends its light from the universe’s toddler years. The quasar, called J1342+0928, existed when the universe was only 690 million years old, right when the first stars and galaxies were forming.

    Quasars are bright disks of gas and dust swirling around supermassive black holes. The black hole that powers J1342+0928 has a mass equivalent to 800 million...

    12/06/2017 - 13:00 Astronomy, Cosmology
  • Feature

    Simulating the universe using Einstein’s theory of gravity may solve cosmic puzzles

    If the universe were a soup, it would be more of a chunky minestrone than a silky-smooth tomato bisque.

    Sprinkled with matter that clumps together due to the insatiable pull of gravity, the universe is a network of dense galaxy clusters and filaments — the hearty beans and vegetables of the cosmic stew. Meanwhile, relatively desolate pockets of the cosmos, known as voids, make up a thin...

    11/14/2017 - 15:30 Cosmology
  • News

    What detecting gravitational waves means for the expansion of the universe

    Ripples in spacetime travel at the speed of light. That fact, confirmed by the recent detection of a pair of colliding stellar corpses, kills a whole category of theories that mess with the laws of gravity to explain why the universe is expanding as fast as it is.

    On October 16, physicists announced that the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, LIGO, had detected...

    10/24/2017 - 17:34 Cosmology