Black holes leave their marks all over the observed universe. They do however also inspire new and exciting ideas about space and time itself, both in the micro-cosmos and on the large scales of the universe.
It seems that nearly exactly 100 years after their prediction by Albert Einstein, Gravitational Waves have finally been directly detected for the first time. Speakers of the LIGO experiment announced yesterday that they have witnessed the final stages of the inspiral and merger of a massive black hole binary system. This marks the beginning of a new type of astronomy with gravitational waves that allows to explore a so-far completely unknown side of the Universe.
Star formation is one of the fundamental process contributing to galaxy evolution and therefore in shaping the Universe. Yet it is extremely challenging to build a complete view of this process and its interplay with galactic scale properties. The most challenging aspect is to reconcile physical mechanisms, which operate at the smallest spatial scales (i.e. the size of our solar system) all the way up to galactic scale features such as the large star-forming complexes.
The discovery of the accelerated universe keeps receiving a well deserved attention. On November 9, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation announced the recipients of the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics
Today’s Nobel Prize awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider”.
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) collaboration announced its first physics result in Physical Review Letters on 3 April 2013. This was a long awaited event for the astroparticle physics community. Indeed, this large particle detector was first proposed by Nobel laureate Samuel Ting in 1994, to study primordial cosmic-ray particles in the energy range from 0.5 to 2 TeV. A proof-of-principle spectrometer (AMS-01) flew successfully for 10 days on the space shuttle Discovery during flight STS-91 in June 1998.
Particles with TeV energies, like those produced at the LHC, seem exotic. But once outside the protection of our atmosphere, these “cosmic rays” (CR) become exceedingly common. The Fermi Telescope, for example, encounters a hundred thousand CR for every gamma ray it detects. These particles have an impressive scope of local effects, from damaging electronics and inhibiting manned space travel to possibly triggering lightning strikes. And although we have been aware of their existence since the early 1900ʼs, their exact origins remained unclear.