There was a bang. A big one. It was the beginning of everything, but for several hundred million years, all was darkness. Then, lights started flickering to life, stars and gases and galaxies all coming online.
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.
In Infinitude, abstract, geometrical shapes condense into stars, which explode into supernovae, sending an asteroid careening through space towards a nascent Earth. The mixed media short film is the creation of Canadian filmmaker Scott Portingale.
Rumors are flying that astronomers at the European Southern Observatory have discovered an Earth-like exoplanet in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighboring star. If confirmed, this is undeniably one of the biggest astronomical discoveries of the century.
Despite what hipsters may tell you, Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood isn’t actually the coolest place in the universe. Rather, that honor could go to one of two spots: a nebula in space or a lab at MIT.
There are an estimated 700 million trillion terrestrial planets in the observable universe. Among them, Earth may very well be one of a kind according to a new study from Uppsala University in Sweden. Astronomer Erik Zackrisson and his team have been running computer simulations to model all of the terrestrial planets that are likely to exist in the universe. The probabilistic exoplanetary statistics that they’ve gleaned from these simulations could potentially upend the Copernican principle and will soon be published in The Astrophysical Journal (it’s currently up on arXiv).
An enormous cloud of dust and gas may bear the fingerprints of the first stars in the universe.
The distant cloud contains only a tiny amount of relatively heavy elements, which are manufactured in the hearts of stars, suggesting that these traces may have come from some of the first stars that ever existed.