Loading...

Follow New Scientist | Cosmology on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

By Leah Crane

THE spikes keep things quiet. Too much noise and the antenna pointing out the top couldn’t hear the signals it needs to peer through the frigid exteriors of Jupiter’s moons. This is a model of the Radar for Icy Moons Exploration (RIME) instrument. If all goes well, RIME will start studying Ganymede, Europa and Callisto in 2029 as part of the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission, also called Juice.

The scaled-down 1:18 model seen here sits in an anechoic chamber in the Netherlands for a test of a test: before Juice is launched in …

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

By Jonathan O'Callaghan

EXPECT a sharp frost on Pluto for the next 100 years. That is the forecast from an analysis suggesting the dwarf planet’s atmosphere has reached maximum pressure and will begin freezing nitrogen onto the surface.

Pluto’s tenuous atmosphere was first spotted in 1985 as astronomers watched the world pass in front of a distant star, an event known as an occultation. Since then, about a dozen occultations have been used to study its gassy layer, which has gradually grown in size over the past 30 years.

The cause of this increase is the slowly changing seasons on …

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Live, die, repeat: foul-mouthed but endearing Nadia (Natasha Lyonne)

Russian Doll/Courtesy of Netflix

By Chelsea Whyte

Russian Doll, streaming on Netflix

THE latest hit on Netflix turns out to be a magic trick in eight parts. As Russian Doll begins, everything looks fairly ordinary for a TV drama – a party, a woman floundering in her mid-30s, death – then, with a single twist, it becomes extraordinary.

This dark comedy stars Natasha Lyonne as Nadia, a foul-mouthed New Yorker who we soon learn is stuck in a time loop, repeatedly living through the night of her 36th birthday. She dies, only …

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

By Daniel Cossins

TO SEE how it all began, you have to go to the end of the Earth – a kilometre from the Amundsen-Scott station at the South Pole, to be precise. There, huddled against the great white wilderness, a telescope captures light from near-enough the beginning of time, interrogating it for answers to the oldest question of all: how the cosmos came to be.

One of the most famous answers says that the universe had a stupendous growth spurt in its first moments, expanding almost as much in a split second as it would in the following 13.8 billion years. It is quite a claim.

A few years ago, the researchers who built that Antarctic telescope were convinced they had found proof of this cosmic inflation, swirling patterns written in ancient light that signalled the universe’s early ballooning. Their discovery made headlines around the world. Then they realised there was an error in their analysis and the result turned to dust.

Except that wasn’t the end of the story. Those physicists got back to work and now, almost five years on, they are poised to catch their quarry for real. There is no guarantee, and they are bound to be more cautious this time. But with no other telescope capable of sighting these elusive signals due to come online for at least a decade, their upgraded detectors are the best shot we have at finding the truth about the origins of everything.

“This is probably the most exciting thing in cosmology today,” says Dan Hooper, a cosmologist at the University of Chicago, who isn’t involved in the search. “With these experiments, we are now starting …

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Earth-Moon-Earth plays Beethoven reflected back from the moon

a place that only exists in moonlight, Katie Paterson & J M W Turner, at Turner Contemporary

By Boyd Tonkin

A Place That Exists Only in Moonlight: Katie Paterson & J. M. W. Turner Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK,to 6 May 2019

WHAT colour is the universe? Right now, according to Scottish artist Katie Paterson, it is beige; astronomers from Johns Hopkins University call it “cosmic latte”.

Paterson’s new work enlists astrophysical research to present the ever-changing spectrum of cosmic events over billions of years in the form of a rapidly rotating colour wheel. …

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

By Daniel Cossins

YOU may have heard that physics is in crisis. We were told that it would reveal the secrets to the origin of the universe and the fundamental nature of reality. Stephen Hawking even told us that it would “show us the mind of God“. But the big discoveries have dried up. Yes, we found the Higgs boson and detected gravitational waves, but they were predicted decades ago. None of the really ambitious ideas from the past 30 years or so have come good.

So, what’s going on? To find out, I have come to the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada, a facility dedicated to forging – as its mission statement has it – “new, mind-bending ideas about the ultimate nature of our universe”. It is home to perhaps the greatest concentration of theoretical physicists in the world, and they enjoy more freedom than most to think bold thoughts. If anyone can shed light on the crisis – and perhaps point to a way out of it – it would be the people here.

Neil Turok, director of the institute, doesn’t deny there is a crisis. When I am led to his office for what I am told will be a 15-minute conversation, he regales me for an hour, starting with an unflinching assessment of his field. “When I got into physics in the early 80s, it stopped being successful,” he says. Yikes.

Many of his colleagues don’t put it so strongly. Some prefer to avoid the term crisis. But they are no strangers to the perception that theoretical physics, at least at its most ambitious, is in a funk. …

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
The CHIME radio telescope is listening out for strange signals

Andre Renard/Dunlap Institute/CHIME

By Chelsea Whyte

FAST radio bursts (FRBs) are mysterious, milliseconds-long showers of radio waves that come from unidentified objects outside our galaxy. About 60 FRBs have been identified to date, the strangest being a lone, repeating source. Now, it is no longer alone.

In August 2018, researchers at the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), a radio telescope in British Columbia, detected 13 more FRBs to add to the catalogue. One of them is the second FRB ever seen to repeat (Nature, doi.org/czfq, doi.org/czfs).

The first …

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Video credit: Enrico Sacchetti and Riccardo Poggi

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
The mountaintop of Cerro Paranal in the Atacama desert was blasted away to create a level site for the Very Large Telescope

Enrico Sacchetti

By Daniel Cossins

ANTU, Kueyen, Melipal, Yepun. These four hulking figures dominate the summit of Cerro Paranal, a rust-red mountain in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Their home is among the most inhospitable places on Earth – a desolate, dusty terrain reminiscent of the surface of Mars.

As night falls, the giants slowly rotate and stir into life. Doors slide open, and within the structures vast mirrors begin to capture light from distant corners of the universe. Together they make up the world’s most powerful optical telescope: the Very Large Telescope.

You might have seen some of the VLT’s spectacular snapshots of swirling nebulae and far-away galaxies. But it was not built just to take pretty pictures. In the 20 years since the VLT saw first light, it has given researchers of the European Southern Observatory, a 17-nation astronomical collaboration, a clearer view of phenomena that could answer some of the universe’s greatest open questions, from how stars and planets form and whether there is life beyond our solar system, to how our underlying theories of the cosmos stand up. But enough is never enough: the giants are evolving, with the promise of even more spectacular discoveries to come.

This corner of Chile is an astronomer’s paradise. The sky is cloudless for 330 days of the year, there is almost no light pollution and the air contains barely any moisture that would otherwise block certain wavelengths of light. “When the moon is down, the night sky is absolutely amazing,” says staff astronomer …

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The universe will eventually come to an end, but will it be with a bang, a whimper, or something else? Astrophysicist Geraint Lewis has the answer

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview