Cosmic ‘dustpedias’ could reveal new types of galaxy

Cosmic dust is too cold to be captured by optical telescopes, so visual images of galaxies don't give the full story of conditions.

by Gareth Willmer Measuring the vast quantities of cosmic dust in interstellar space may be a key to unlocking various mysteries of the cosmos, including how the grains form and whether new types of galaxy are obscured by the particle clouds. Cosmic dust grains, which are born in stars, are the building blocks for other stars … Read more

Refining intergalactic measurements could alter our whole understanding of physics

At the centre of the image is an important star called the RS Puppis, a Cepheid variable star which is a class of stars whose luminosity is used to estimate distances to nearby galaxies. This one is 15,000 times brighter than our sun.

by Ethan Bilby New efforts to figure out just how fast the universe has expanded since the Big Bang, a speed known as the Hubble constant, could upend current theories of physics, according to some scientists. Professor Grzegorz Pietrzyński at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw is one … Read more

Dark matter clusters could reveal nature of dark energy

Scientists are hoping to understand one of the most enduring mysteries in cosmology by simulating its effect on the clustering of galaxies. That mystery is dark energy – the phenomenon that scientists hypothesise is causing the universe to expand at an ever-faster rate. No-one knows anything about dark energy, except that it could be, somehow, blowing … Read more

From dust to pebbles to planets – insight into the birth of a solar system

Detailed simulations of planetary formation are revealing how tiny grains of dust turn into giant planets and could shed light on where to find new Earth-like worlds. Scientists theorise that planets form from rotating discs of gas that surround newly formed stars, known as proto-planetary discs. Pebble-sized objects in these discs then clump together to … Read more

Dark energy is the biggest mystery in cosmology, but it may not exist at all – leading physicist

Leftover light from Type Ia supernovae has been used to calculate the expansion rate of the universe and infer the existence of dark energy.

The most mysterious phenomenon in cosmology – dark energy – may not exist at all, according to Professor Subir Sarkar, head of the particle theory group at the University of Oxford in the UK. In the late 1990s, astronomers found evidence from supernovae that the universe has been expanding faster and faster as it gets … Read more