Cosmology

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NASA artists' interpretation of the neutron star Swift J1749.4-2807 (left) with it’s companion star (right). NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Explainer: what is a neutron star?

They're are the overachievers of the universe: incredibly dense but very small when compared to others stars. So how much do we know about the extreme behaviour of neutron stars?
A colour image of G63349, one of the galaxies in the survey, created using near-infrared (VISTA telescope) and optical (Sloan telescope) data collated by the GAMA survey. (The bright green object is a nearby star.) ICRAR/GAMA

Don’t panic, but the universe is slowly dying

Our universe's most exciting days are well behind us, with new research showing the universe is now slowly but surely dying.
Understanding how galaxies are arranged could be the key to figuring what causes the expansion of the universe. ESA/Hubble, NASA and S. Smartt (Queen's University Belfast)

Galaxy survey to probe why the universe is accelerating

A unique map of the galaxies in the sky could shed light on the mysteries of the universe – including dark energy and dark matter.
Looking for dark matter in the galaxy collisions such as in Abell 2744, dubbed Pandora’s Cluster. X-ray: NASA/CXC/ITA/INAF/J.Merten et al, Lensing: NASA/STScI; NAOJ/Subaru; ESO/VLT, Optical: NASA/STScI/R.Dupke

Shedding new light on the search for the ‘invisible’ dark matter

Scientists know so much about dark matter apart from what it is exactly. But are they getting any closer?
Something new discovered near our Milky Way. Flickr/Luis Calçada

Hidden in plain sight: the Milky Way’s new companions

Several dwarf galaxies have been discovered close to our own Milky Way and are adding to our understanding of how galaxies form. But why haven't astronomers seen them before?
Some of the antennas of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope, designed to uncover what happened in the first billion years of the universe. Curtin University

Unlocking the mystery of the first billion years of the universe

More than 100 million years has been wiped off the age of the first stars but there is still the question of what happened in the first billion years of the universe. Earlier this month the European Space…
New data reveals no evidence of gravitational waves in the early universe, as observed by the BICEP2 radio telescope (pictured) near the South Pole. teffen Richter, Harvard University

Gravitational wave discovery still clouded by galactic dust

One of this century’s greatest potential discoveries concerning the origins of the universe has now fallen to galactic dust. That’s according to a new joint-analysis of all the existing data – including…
Matthew McConaughey embodies the heroic scientist in Interstellar. Paramount

Scientists as Hollywood heroes

Interstellar’s protagonists spend a significant portion of the movie’s 169-minute running time giving mini-lectures – sometimes with props and a little whiteboard – on theoretical physics. The characters…
This artist’s impression of the Milky Way galaxy. The blue halo of material surrounding the galaxy indicates the expected distribution of the mysterious dark matter. ESO/L. Calçada

Dark matter and the Milky Way: more little than large

While invisible, dark matter completely dominates our Milky Way, recent measurements of just how much dark matter there is have revealed a bit of a mystery. In a paper published today in the Astrophysical…
A dwarf galaxy: a challenge for modern cosmology? This dwarf galaxy ESO 540-31 is more than 11 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Cetus (The Whale). , Luca LimatolaESA/Hubble & NASA

A cosmic two-step: the universal dance of the dwarf galaxies

Over the last few years we’ve been studying the orbits of dwarf galaxies and we expecting to find them buzzing at random around large galaxies. But looking out into the universe, we see some dwarfs undertaking…
If there’s a multiverse out there can we see it? Flickr/Maciek Bielec

Have cosmologists lost their minds in the multiverse?

The recent BICEP2 observations – of swirls in the polarisation of the cosmic microwave background – have been proclaimed as many things, from evidence of the Big Bang and gravitational waves to something…
Graduate student Justus Brevik testing the BICEP2 used to find evidence of cosmic inflation nearly 14 billion years ago. EPA/Steffen Richter/Harvard University

First hints of gravitational waves in the Big Bang’s afterglow

Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the US have announced overnight what they believe is the indirect detection of gravitational waves in the afterglow of the Big Bang. The…
BICEP2 has spotted something pretty special from its South Pole base. Steffen Richter (Harvard University)

Explainer: what a flexed BICEP tells us about the big bang

The cosmological community is bubbling with the news that the BICEP2 experiment may have detected gravitational waves through measuring the radiation left over from the big bang. If the findings are correct…
The oldest star is out there somewhere. But which one is it? www.shutterstock.com

The oldest star in the universe? Maybe, maybe not!

There is a myth that goldfish have a three-second memory, and I sometimes wonder if the same is true about the part of the human mind that deals with science in the news. This week, the international media…

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