astrophysics

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.

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.

From New Scientist, Jan. 25, 2021: The Big Bang left us the universe — and a major set of mysteries around antimatter, dark matter, dark energy, and cosmic inflation. While the Large Hadron Collider looks at what the laws of physics were like a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, Dan Hooper, head of theoretical astrophysics at Fermilab, thinks the answers to these puzzles may depend on better understanding that first fraction of a second — even closer to the universe’s beginning.

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.

Faint light from rogue stars not bound to galaxies has been something of a mystery to scientists. The dimness of this intracluster light makes it difficult to measure, and no one knows how much there is. Scientists on the Dark Energy Survey, led by Fermilab, have made the most radially extended measurement of this light ever and have found new evidence that its distribution might point to the distribution of dark matter.

From Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Jan. 26, 2021: The COHERENT particle physics experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has firmly established the existence of a new kind of neutrino interaction. To observe this interaction, scientists used CENNS-10, a liquid argon detector built at and on loan from Fermilab.

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.

From Forbes, Jan. 14, 2021: The Dark Energy Survey recently publicly released an enormous amount of data for anyone to use. This data set contains nearly seven hundred million individual astronomical objects. Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln explains how collaborators on the Dark Energy Survey study the history of the universe and highlights a number of the scientific findings in DES’s rich trove of data.