Scientists trying to unlock the secrets of our universe’s origin need to look no further than the photography studio of Thomas Blanchard and Oilhack. By mixing nothing more than paints, oil, and soap, the artists manage to create colorful miniature universes full of strange, tiny alien worlds.
You think our galaxy is special? Ha. Our boring pinwheel of gas and dark matter might be a nice hangout for humans. But 750 or so million light years away, there’s an elliptical galaxy, Galaxy 0402+379, whose two supermassive black holes are orbiting each other from a distance of only 24 or so light years. Their combined mass is around 15 billion times that of our Sun.
Spoiler alert: The universe is flat. But there’s a lot of subtlety packed into that innocent-looking statement. What does it mean for a 3D object to be “flat”? How do we measure the shape of the universe anyway? Since the universe is flat, is that…it? Is there anything else interesting to say?
Oh yes, there is.
It’s a happy day when astronomers figure out what’s up with an enormous space blob—and the answer doesn’t imply the immediate destruction of humanity.
Scientists have pinpointed the most ancient oxygen yet discovered in the universe. Spied by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile, the oxygen is nestled in a galaxy 13.1 billion light-years from Earth. Called SXDF-NB1006-2, this galaxy is one of the oldest known.
Thirty million years ago in a galaxy not so far, far away, a star exploded. Three years ago, light from that explosion finally made it to Earth, where scientists watched the explosion unfold from start to finish.