astronomy

From Tech2.org, Feb. 16, 2021: Though the findings from the Holometer mean that, for now, scientists still haven’t found a way to solve general relativity with quantum mechanics, its design and the research it enabled will shape future efforts to prove the intersection of relativity and quantum mechanics at Planck scales.

The Big Bang is the currently accepted theory for the origin of the universe. However, there are some who point to the existence of a very old star, called the Methuselah star, which is said to be even older. If that were true, this would imply that the Big Bang theory is wrong. In this 9-minute video, Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln explains how the Methuselah Star relates to the Big Bang.

From The University of Chicago Physical Sciences, Feb. 8, 2021: Fermilab scientist Richard Kron is retiring from the University of Chicago. He co-founded the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which created the most detailed 3-D maps of the universe and recorded the spectra for more than 3 million astronomical objects. His approach influenced the Dark Energy Survey, which created one of the most accurate dark matter maps of the universe and which Kron will continue to direct.

From NOIRLab, Feb. 8, 2021: The Dark Energy Camera, originally used to complete the Dark Energy Survey, has taken the most detailed photo of Messier 83, also known as the Southern Pinwheel galaxy. (In DECam’s second act, scientists can apply for time to use it to collect data that is then made publicly available.) In all, 163 DECam exposures went into creating this image.

From CNN, Feb. 4, 2021: Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln contextualizes a recent signal that some think may be a sign of extraterrestrial intelligence, explaining the hubbub around the recent a transmission originating from Proxima Centauri. With hope for hearing such a signal one day and pride for humanity’s legacy of looking skyward, Lincoln cautions against reading too much into this transmission, which hasn’t yet been vetted with scientific review.

Robot world

There is a world populated only by robots, roaming around or stuck in place. The hills and valleys are devoid of vegetation and not unlike some earthly desert scene. The sun is in a cloudless sky, but it is small, the light is dim; the sky is pale bluish grey. It is as cold as Antarctica in summer. The atmosphere is much too thin to breathe, and anyway it is mostly carbon dioxide. Sometimes dust storms are whipped up by fast winds. Can you guess what it is?

From Super Interessante, Jan. 31, 2021: A team of researchers from Fermilab and the National Observatory in Brazil used the light of solitary stars to calculate the mass of some of the largest structures in the cosmos — galaxy clusters. In addition to taking the most detailed measurement ever published of intracluster light, the team’s new method of measurement can help further investigate dark matter.

Five billion years ago what was to become the sun was a vast cloud of very thin gas, mostly hydrogen and helium from the Big Bang. There were also heavier elements like carbon, oxygen, iron, gold and all the others; they came from stars that collapsed and then exploded, flinging those atoms across space. That rarefied cloud was bigger than what became our solar system and was surrounded by a more perfect vacuum. Slowly it contracted under its own gravity.

From Forbes, Jan. 22, 2021: Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln describes recent findings of scientists studying an unexplained excess of hard X-rays emanating from neutron stars. The explanation for the excess could lie in a hypothesized dark matter candidate called the axion.