Astrophysics

The infant universeAn all-sky picture of the infant universe revealing 13.77 billion-year-old temperature fluctuations (shown as color differences) that correspond to the seeds that grew to become the galaxies. (Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team)

Astrophysics is a branch of astronomy that explores the physical properties of the cosmos and its composition. Astrophysicists study a broad range of topics, from the tiniest particles of matter and the forces that join them together to the grandest of celestial structures. In essence, astrophysics extends the workings of physics and chemistry that we experience directly here on Earth into the vastness of space. It is both an observational and theoretical science. To probe the universe's past, present and future, astrophysicists have built some of the most complex and precise machines in the world, including terrestrial and space-based telescopes tuned to various wavelengths. The continued seeking of new discoveries is constantly pushing the limits of telescope and model-building technology. 

Dwarf Galaxies Loom Large in the Quest for Dark Matter

Jun 21, 2015
An artist's impression of the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. (Credit: NASA/General Dynamics)

Three astrophysicists discuss the ongoing search for dark matter and how dwarf galaxies can help us understand the evolution of our universe.

 

 

Delving Into the 'Dark Universe' with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

May 27, 2015
An illustration of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)

Two astrophysicists and a theoretical physicist discuss how the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will probe the nature of dark matter and dark energy by taking an unprecedentedly enormous scan of the sky.

Spotlight Live: Looking Back in Time - Oldest Light in Existence Offers Insight into the Universe (Transcript)

Mar 09, 2015
Cosmic Microwave Background

The most accepted idea for how the early universe behaved, cosmic inflation, remains more an abstraction than full-fledged theory. During a live Google Hangout, three preeminent scientists considered the evidence for and against this contentious concept.

Google Hangout: NSF Physics Frontiers Centers - The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics

Mar 04, 2015

The NSF Physics Division hosted a live hour-long Google Hangout with Michael S. Turner, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP). Turner will be joined by other members of KICP to talk about the exciting science going on at the institute including research on the cosmic microwave background and dark matter.

Planck Space Telescope Brings Early Universe into Focus

Feb 16, 2015
Planck space telescope

The latest data release from the Planck space telescope offers insight into everything from the fabric of space to dark matter – and may even have a shot at detecting gravitational waves, says Kavli Institute for Cosmology Director George Efstathiou.

Spotlight Live: Looking Back in Time - Oldest Light in Existence Offers Insight into the Universe

Feb 16, 2015

ON FEBRUARY 18, 2015 three preeminent scientists came together to discuss the latest results, what they mean for the theory of inflation, and what we can expect to learn about the very early universe in the coming decade.

Spotlight Live: Earth-like Planets in Other Solar Systems (Transcript)

Feb 11, 2015

During a recent Google Hangout, three astrophysicists discussed what we can learn about the planets in other solar systems, and answer viewers' questions about how close we are to discovering other Earths. Read a modified transcript of their discussion.

Bubbles From the Center of Our Galaxy: A Key to Understanding Dark Matter and the Milky Way's Past?

Jan 26, 2015

Fresh from the January Rossi Prize Lecture, the scientists who discovered the “Fermi bubbles,” two of the largest structures in the Milky Way, say the bubbles can tell of our galaxy’s past – and even help find dark matter.

Spotlight Live: Microbes and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Jan 26, 2015
Exoplanet

On January 28, astrobiologists Jocelyne DiRuggiero and Christopher McKay discussed how microbiomes - the communities of microbes that inhabit different ecosystems - is driving the search for life elsewhere in the universe.

Microbiome & Astrobiology: How to Search for Life on Other Worlds

Jan 25, 2015

Armed with new knowledge about how microbes persist even in the Earth’s harshest environments, astrobiologists are planning the next missions to search for life in our solar system. Their bets are on microbes.

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