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  • 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
  • News

    How to make the cosmic web give up the matter it’s hiding

    Evidence is piling up that much of the universe’s missing matter is lurking along the strands of a vast cosmic web.

    A pair of papers report some of the best signs yet of hot gas in the spaces between galaxy clusters, possibly enough to represent the half of all ordinary matter previously unaccounted for. Previous studies have hinted at this missing matter, but a new search technique is...

    10/11/2017 - 07:00 Astronomy, Cosmology
  • Science Visualized

    Map reveals the invisible universe of dark matter

    View the video

    Scientists have created the largest map of dark matter yet, part of a slew of new measurements that help pin down the universe’s dark contents. Covering about a thirtieth of the sky, the map (above) charts the density of both normal matter — the stuff that’s visible — and dark matter, an unidentified but far more abundant substance that pervades the cosmos.

    Matter of...

    08/25/2017 - 07:00 Cosmology
  • Science Ticker

    The most distant star ever spotted is 9 billion light-years away

    The most distant star ever observed has been spotted, and its light comes from across two-thirds of the universe. That puts the star a whopping 9 billion light-years away.

    Patrick Kelly at the University of California, Berkeley and his colleagues found the star in Hubble Space Telescope images of a galaxy cluster called MACS J1149. In April and May 2016, Kelly and his team saw a...

    07/11/2017 - 16:51 Astronomy, Cosmology