astrophysics

Black holes live up to their name. They emit no light and they’re usually very far away. This makes it hard to take pictures of them, and indeed, some people claimed that they might not exist. But that’s no longer true. In episode 19 of Subatomic Stories, Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln tells us how we are quite sure that black holes are real.

Black holes seem to be timeless, lurking in the cosmos, forever eating and growing. However, astronomers believe that there is a way for black holes to shrink in size and eventually evaporate away. In episode 18 of Subatomic Stories, Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln talks about Hawking radiation, the ultimate fate of black holes.

Black holes are one of the most perplexing phenomena in the cosmos. There are many misconceptions in the popular press about their properties. In episode 15 of Subatomic Stories, Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln begins a several-episode miniseries talking about this fascinating phenomenon.

From New Scientist, July 15, 2020: Two sets of measurements to estimate the rate of expansion of the universe — described by the Hubble constant — conflict with one another, which may be a sign that our basic understanding of the cosmos is wrong. Two new attempts by astronomers to solve this problem have complicated things further. Fermilab scientist Antonella Palmese and her colleagues have used measurements of gravitational waves to calculate an independent value of the Hubble constant.

Scientists have begun operating the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, or DESI, to create a 3-D map of over 30 million galaxies and quasars that will help them understand the nature of dark energy. The new instrument is the most advanced of its kind, with 5,000 robotic positioners that will enable scientists to gather more than 20 times more data than previous surveys. Researchers at Fermilab helped develop the software that will direct these positioners to focus on galaxies several billion light-years away and are currently in the process of fine-tuning the programs used before the last round of testing later this year.

From Nature World News, May 20, 2020: Two studies have shown evidence of how a larger satellite galaxy can draw smaller ones into them as they get “trapped” into orbiting the Milky Way. Such an arrangement can inform astronomers and researchers about the nature of the formation of galaxies as well as insights into dark matter and its nature. Fermilab scientist Alex Drlica-Wagner is featured.

From Sanford Underground Research Facility, May 19, 2020: The international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, hosted by Fermilab, will be tuned to see neutrinos streaming from a nearby supernova. Such neutrino interactions could give researchers insight into one of the explosive processes that formed the elements in our solar system and our planet.

From Gizmodo, May 5, 2020: Fermilab scientist Brian Nord weighs in on the question of how automated devices, such as an autonomously operating telescope, free from human biases and complications, could find the solutions to questions about dark matter and dark energy.