Astrophysics

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Every culture derives a different meaning from our common wonder at the mysteries of the universe. AAP Image/Supplied by Natasha Hurley Walker (Murchison Widefield Array telescope in Western Australia)

Indigenous culture and astrophysics: a path to reconciliation

The night sky is part of the shared heritage of all people on Earth. A project to bring Indigenous Australians and astrophysics together reveals our common wonder at the mysteries of the universe.
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?
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…
Interstellar stars Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain glitzing it up for the European premiere. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

On Interstellar and ‘real physics’

Poor old Richard Branson. SpaceShipTwo has only just stopped smouldering after struggling to get more than 20km from the Earth and there’s the Nolan brothers getting Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway…
There are millions of these lurking in Earth’s backyard. NASA

Gecko sticking forces hold rubble-pile asteroids together

Millions of asteroids of all shapes and sizes are littered throughout the inner solar system. In the past three decades, scientists have spotted as many as 500,000 but many more remain unseen. Many of…
Scary but fascinating. NASA and M. Weiss (Chandra X -ray Center)

From black holes to dark matter, an astrophysicist explains

Katherine Mack, astrophysicist at the University of Melbourne, answered questions posed by the public on Reddit. The Conversation has curated the highlights. Dark Matter How do you explain dark matter…
Maybe pink planets have life too. gsfc

Explainer: how do you find exoplanets?

Astronomers didn’t know, 20 years ago, whether planets existed around any stars other than the Sun. All that changed in 1995 with the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting the star 51 Pegasi. And by the beginning…
Only physics can burn a hole through the sky. European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Beyond the Higgs boson: five reasons physics is still interesting

Would physics be “far more interesting” if the Higgs boson had not been found? Stephen Hawking thinks so. He made this bold claim, possibly with his tongue slightly in his cheek, at the opening of a new…
The theory likens cancer to organisms such as these green and yellow sea sponges. Steve Rupp, National Science Foundation/Wikimedia Commons

Evolutionary theory of cancer overlooks genetic research

The history of biology is peppered with invaluable contributions by physics and physicists. Even if we leave aside the argument that it’s all just physics anyway, theoretical and practical biology leans…
A new study shows only 30% of stars in a globular cluster will reach old age and become planetary nebulae. NASA

A stellar mid-life crisis: why do some cluster stars die early?

It was written in the stars all along, but we’ve just found out: a whopping 70% of stars in a widely-studied cluster die before reaching old age which, for stars, is the most productive stage of their…

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