Why the universe's ancient galaxies were extra bright

New research based on observational data from the Spitzer telescope provides clues as to how the universe first emerged from its dark age.

ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgements: D. Calzetti (UMass) and the LEGUS Team
  • Researchers using the Spitzer telescope were able to analyze some of the most distant and ancient galaxies in the universe.
  • They discovered that these galaxies were far brighter than anticipated, shedding clues into how the universe first emerged from the "dark ages" that lasted until about a billion years after the Big Bang.
  • This research serves as a stepping stone for future work to be conducted with the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to be launched in early 2021.
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Surprising Science

Watch how this video brilliantly compares planet sizes

What if all planets were the same distance from Earth as the Moon?

Yeti Dynamics
  • A video imagines what it would look like if the planets were all the same distance from Earth as the Moon.
  • The largest planets like Jupiter and Saturn would loom large in the sky.
  • Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system.
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Surprising Science

Scientists discover how to trap mysterious dark matter

A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.

  • Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
  • Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
  • The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
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Surprising Science

The science of expansion: Andromeda, gravity, and the ‘Big Rip’

If the universe is expanding in all directions, why is Andromeda hurtling toward the Milky Way?

  • The Andromeda Galaxy and our Milky Way are on a collision course that will obliterate life on Earth 4.5 billion years from now.
  • The universe is expanding in all directions, all at once – so why are Andromeda and the Milky Way drawing nearer? The gravity between them is a stronger force than expansion.
  • The rate of expansion is accelerating. If it continues to speed up, its force may become strong enough pull things apart that are currently held together by superior forces: Our galaxy, the solar system, and even the atoms in our bodies. That possible ending to the universe is known as the 'Big Rip'.
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Great scientific discoveries hide in boring places

NASA's Michelle Thaller explains how an accidental discovery led to the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics.

  • In 1964, two American radio astronomers, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, discovered the Cosmic Microwave Background by accident. Their resulting work earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978.
  • They had long been trying to get rid of the annoying "noise" in their data (even thinking it was all the pigeon poop in their telescope) only to realize the noise was the treasure. They had stumbled upon the oldest light in the universe, and some of the strongest evidence to support the Big Bang theory. (What is the Cosmic Microwave Background?)
  • That's why space and science are never boring, explains NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller. One scientist's junk data can be another's Nobel Prize.
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