astrophysics

Scientists think that, under some circumstances, dark matter could generate powerful enough gravitational waves for equipment like LIGO to detect. Now that observatories have begun to record gravitational waves on a regular basis, scientists are discussing how dark matter—only known so far to interact with other matter only through gravity—might create these gravitational waves.

From ABC7: Fermilab scientist Brad Benson talks about the South Pole Telescope’s role part in the Event Horizon Telescope. Scientists behind the Event Horizon Telescope recently revealed the first image ever made of a black hole, depicting its hot, shadowy edges where light bends around itself in a cosmic funhouse effect. Assembling data gathered by eight radio telescopes around the world, astronomers created the picture showing the violent neighborhood around a supermassive black hole, the light-sucking monsters of the universe theorized by Einstein more than a century ago and confirmed by observations for decades.

From WBEZ’s Morning Shift, April 10, 2019: WBEZ interviews Fermilab scientist Brad Benson about the recent unveiling of the first ever photograph of a black hole. The Event Horizon Telescope, a collaboration between more than 200 scientists using telescopes from around the world, shot photographs of a supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87.

From CNN, April 10, 2019: Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln explains the big news from the Event Horizon Telescope on its first direct observation of a black hole at the center of a galaxy named M87. M87 is a supergiant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo.

The Event Horizon Telescope—a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration—was designed to capture images of a black hole. On April 10, in coordinated news conferences across the globe, researchers revealed that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow. 

The optical lenses for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument have seen their first light. Fermilab contributed key components to DESI, including the corrector barrel and its support structures, along with vital software that ensures the instrument’s 5,000 robotic positioners are precisely aligned with their celestial targets.

A supernova's shockwave ejects the outer layers of the star in a catastrophic blast that can briefly shine more brightly than entire galaxies. Image: NASA

Particle detectors recorded neutrinos from supernova SN1987A hours before telescopes saw the first light. Thirty years later, scientists around the world are eager to detect neutrinos from another one. The international Fermilab-hosted Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment will be looking for them. These neutrinos can tell us more about supernovae themselves and may hint at new physics that could upend the Standard Model of particle physics.

For The New York Times, Feb. 25, 2019: Axions? Phantom energy? Astrophysicists scramble to patch a hole in the universe, rewriting cosmic history in the process. Fermilab scientist Josh Frieman is quoted in this article.