astrophysics

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a flagship astronomy and astrophysics project currently under construction on a mountaintop in Chile, will be named for astronomer Vera Rubin, a key figure in the history of the search for dark matter.

One night in 1939, Professor Pierre Auger’s daughter asked him, “Papa, what are you doing?” In French, of course. “I’m studying the sparkles on the roof,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye. He had discovered that very energetic subatomic particles coming from outer space, cosmic rays, smash into atoms in the upper atmosphere making huge showers of particles that reach the ground.

From New Scientist, Dec. 11, 2019: Fermilab scientist Dan Hooper is quoted in this article on what scientists mean when they talk about the Big Bang. The best evidence for the big bang is all around us in the cosmic microwave background, the radiation released once the universe had cooled sufficiently for atoms to form, when it was about 380,000 years old. And that is the point: everywhere in today’s universe was where the big bang was.

Scientists at CERN have found a way to learn more about the interior of neutron stars using the Large Hadron Collider. Researchers on the ALICE experiment are uncovering the properties of elusive hyperon particles hypothesized to be found inside neutron stars.

From The Mac Observer, Nov. 25, 2019: In this 30-minute podcast episode, Fermilab scientist Dan Hooper recounts how he caught the astrophysics bug as an undergraduate, landed a postdoc position at Oxford and was later hired at Fermilab. He chats about his interest in the interface between particle physics and cosmology, dark matter and what neutrinos can tell us about the early universe.

From Science, Nov. 12, 2019: Three years ago, a team of particle astrophysicists appeared to nix the idea that a faint glow of gamma rays in the heart of our Milky Way galaxy could be emanating from dark matter. But the conclusion that the gamma rays come instead from more ordinary sources may have been too hasty, the team reports in a new study. So the dark matter hypothesis may be alive and well after all. Fermilab scientist Dan Hooper is quoted in this article.

From Gizmodo, Nov. 6, 2019: Scientists analyzing data from a defunct satellite say we should all consider that our universe might be round, rather than flat. The consequences, they explain in a new paper, could be crisis-inducing. Fermilab scientist Dan Hooper weighs in on this tension in cosmology.

When the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope high in the Chilean Andes becomes fully operational in 2022, its 3.2-gigapixel camera will collect the same amount of data — every night. And it will do so over and over again for ten years. The sky survey will collect so much data that data scientists needed to figure out new ways for astronomers to access it.