Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe, like the ATLAS calorimeter seen here, are providing more accurate measurements of fundamental particles.
Physicists know a lot about the most fundamental properties of the universe, but they certainly don’t know everything. 2021 was a big year for physics – what was learned and what’s coming next?
Reidar Hahn / Fermilab
A new result from the MicroBooNE neutrino experiment has dashed hopes for a neat resolution to several puzzles for physicists.
The Piton de la Fournaise in eruption, 2015.
Greg de Serra/Flickr
The study of neutrinos produced within the Earth’s interior provides a better understanding of the radioactivity of our planet.
Artist’s conception of the Milky Way galaxy, which should contain dark matter haloes.
A new method suggests we should aim to detect dark matter haloes by tracing galactic gas.
The supernova remnant Cassiopeia A.
When scientists created the Higgs particle with protons, they needed the 10km-wide Large Hadron Collider. A muon machine could achieve it with a diameter of just 200 metres.
The Crab Nebula is a remnant of a supernova, a source of neutrinos.
NASA, ESA, J. Hester and A. Loll (Arizona State University)
If we want an improved theory of particle physics, understanding neutrino masses is key.
An illustration of two neutron stars spinning around each other while merging.
NASA/CXC/Trinity University/D. Pooley et al.
Astronomers are now able to detect a host of signals streaming through the universe. This newfound ability is like gaining new senses and it’s opening the door to understanding the cosmos.
A detector buried under more than a mile of ice in Antarctica has detected a high-energy subatomic neutrino and traced it to its origin, a blazar – a gargantuan black hole more than a billion times more massive than the sun.
Artist’s impression based on real picture of Icecube lab.
A giant detector at the South Pole has observed a neutrino from a black hole in a distant galaxy for the first time.
How does our world work on a subatomic level?
Varsha Y S
A particle physicist explains just what this keystone theory includes. After 50 years, it’s the best we’ve got to answer what everything in the universe is made of and how it all holds together.
Galaxy cluster with dark matter denoted in blue.
Smithsonian Institution @ Flickr Commons
A new study challenges the established view of what dark matter is.
Looking up in the main chamber at SNOLAB’s facility in the Vale Creighton nickel mine in Sudbury, Ont., a giant spherical neutrino sensor array the size of a 10 storey building is used to detect subatomic particles that pass through the earth.
Deep underground, scientists research subatomic particles from space in a bid to understand the building blocks of our universe.
Justin Evans, the author, creating a grid of fine steel wire, now sitting inside the SuperNEMO detector.
Deep beneath the Alpine ski slopes, patient scientists are waiting to observe a rare radioactive decay that would make us rewrite the Standard Model of Particle Physics.
Map of all matter – most of which is invisible dark matter – between Earth and the edge of the observable universe.
Cosmologists are heading back to their chalkboards as the experiments designed to figure out what this unknown 84 percent of our universe actually is come up empty.
Artist’s illustration of two merging neutron stars.
National Science Foundation/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet.
The discovery of tiny ripples in space from the violent collision of dense stars could help solve many mysteries – including where the gold in our jewellery comes from.
This year’s winners.
Illustration by N. Elmehed. NobelPrize.org
Razor-sharp, unconventional and fun on the dance floor. A colleague paints a colourful portrait of one of this year’s Nobel Laureates in physics.
The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) could help unravel the mysteries of antimatter and complete scientists’ next model of the universe.
A new detector could work out what’s causing a heat flow from the Earth’s interior. It may even solve the mystery of what powers the Earth’s magnetic field.
There are two broad ways to measure the expansion of the universe. One is based on the cosmic microwave background, shown here, along with our own galaxy viewed in microwave wavelengths.
ESA, HFI & LFI consortia (2010)
The universe is expanding faster than expected, but we don’t know what’s driving it. Here are a few of the possible explanations, from dark energy to a modification of general relativity.
A burst of ghostly neutrinos may have been generated by a quasar like this.
A burst of neutrinos detected deep under the Antarctic ice may have originated from a distant quasar on the edge of the visible universe.