The Universe is the totality of everything that exists, has existed, and ever will exist. Similar meaning is sometimes conveyed with the words cosmos, world, reality, and nature. The Universe includes all of spacetime; the entire contents of outer space; all matter, energy, dark matter, and dark energy; all galaxies, stars, and planets; all humans and every living thing; all molecules, atoms, subatomic particles, photons, and their wave dualities; all physical constants, physical laws and fundamental interactions. The Universe can even be understood to encompass all of mathematics, all concepts and ideas, and all thoughts and emotions. Read more ...

The Holographic Universe

The Multiverse

Fate of the Universe

Theories about the end of the universe   Wikipedia
Big Freeze, Big Rip, Big Crunch, Big Bounch

  It's Official: The Universe Is Dying Slowly   Space.com - August 11, 2015

The most comprehensive assessment of the energy output in the nearby universe reveals that today's produced energy is only about half of what it was 2 billion years ago. A team of international scientists used several of the world's most powerful telescopes to study the energy of the universe and concluded that the universe is slowly dying. "We used as many space- and ground-based telescopes as we could get our hands on to measure the energy output of over 200,000 galaxies across as broad a wavelength range as possible," Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) team leader Simon Driver, of the University of Western Australia, said in a statement. The astronomers created a video explaining the slow death of the universe to illustrate the discovery. When the Big Bang created the energy of the universe about 13.8 billion years ago, some portion of that energy found itself locked up as mass. When stars shine, they are converting that mass back into energy, as described by Albert Einstein's famous equation E=mc2 (energy = mass x speed of light squared).

Is the universe actually shrinking?   PhysOrg - February 3, 2015

There are some people who would have you believe the Universe is expanding. They're peddling this idea it all started with a bang, and that expansion is continuing and accelerating. Yet, they can't tell us what force is causing this acceleration. Just "dark energy", or some other JK Rowling-esque sounding thing. Otherwise known as the acceleration that shall not be named, and it shall be taught in the class which follows potions in 3rd period. I propose to you, faithful viewer, an alternative to this expansionist conspiracy. What if distances are staying the same, and everything is in fact, shrinking?

Collapse of Universe may be sooner rather than later   Science Gogo - December 13, 2013

It could happen tomorrow, it could happen in a billion years, but whenever it is, calculations by physicists at the University of Southern Denmark indicate that the risk of the Universe collapsing is even greater than previously thought. The doomsday scenario that's been refined by the Danish researchers is known as The Big Slurp which would occur when there is a radical shift in the forces that govern the Universe. This violent process is called a phase transition and is very similar to what happens when, for example, water turns to steam. Pivotal to the Big Slurp scenario is the Higgs Boson, the particle which is believed to play a role in giving mass to elementary particles.

Collapse of the universe is closer than ever before   PhysOrg - December 12, 2013

Sooner or later a radical shift in the forces of the universe will cause every little particle in it to become extremely heavy. Everything - every grain of sand on Earth, every planet in the solar system and every galaxy - will become millions of billions times heavier than it is now, and this will have disastrous consequences: The new weight will squeeze all material into a small, super hot and super heavy ball, and the universe as we know it will cease to exist. This violent process is called a phase transition and is very similar to what happens when, for example water turns to steam or a magnet heats up and loses its magnetization. The phase transition in the universe will happen if a bubble is created where the Higgs-field associated with the Higgs-particle reaches a different value than the rest of the universe. If this new value results in lower energy and if the bubble is large enough, the bubble will expand at the speed of light in all directions. All elementary particles inside the bubble will reach a mass, that is much heavier than if they were outside the bubble, and thus they will be pulled together and form supermassive centers.

Endless Void or Big Crunch: How Will the Universe End?   Live Science - October 26, 2011

Snapshot from a computer simulation of the formation of large-scale structures in the universe, showing a patch of 100 million light-years and the resulting coherent motions of galaxies flowing toward the highest mass concentration in the center. Not only are scientists unsure how the universe will end, they aren't even sure it will end at all. Several possibilities for the fate of our universe have been bandied about. They tend to have names such as Big Crunch, Big Rip and Big Freeze that belie their essential bleakness. Ultimately, space could collapse back in on itself, destroying all stars and galaxies in existence, or it could expand into essentially an endless void.

In the News ...

Is the Universe Conscious?   NBC - June 16, 2017

Some of the world's most renowned scientists are questioning whether the universe is a living entity that can think and feel and move at will. For centuries, modern science has been shrinking the gap between humans and the rest of the universe, from Isaac Newton showing that one set of laws applies equally to falling apples and orbiting moons to Carl Sagan intoning that 'we are made of star stuff' - that the atoms of our bodies were literally forged in the nuclear furnaces of other stars.

  Was Einstein wrong? Researchers suggest there is a fifth force of nature governing our universe   Daily Mail - May 30, 2017

Our understanding of the universe, based largely on Einstein's theory of general relativity, relies on four fundamental forces: Gravity, electromagnetic, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. These forces stop planets, molecules and even atoms from tearing themselves apart and are the building blocks for the physical rules of the cosmos. But in recent decades, whispers of a fifth force of nature have surfaced, and if it exists, it could overthrow everything we know about how the universe works. Now, researchers have discovered the ultimate way to test whether this fifth force is real, and it involves tracking the stars at the centre of our galaxy.

Hubble Has Found the Ancient Galaxies That Gave the Universe Its First Light   Seeker - February 9, 2017
By using a quirk of Einstein's general relativity and applying a new technique to remove obscuring light, astronomers have found an ancient population of the universe's first galaxies. A new technique that removes the light of foreground galaxy clusters is giving astronomers a direct look at a generation of galaxies dating back to the universe's baby years. The discovery is considered a key piece of evidence for a critical, but poorly understood period of time when the universe switched from being dark to radiating light.

Research reinforces role of supernovae in clocking the universe   PhysOrg - January 4, 2017

How much light does a supernova shed on the history of universe? The findings support a widely held theory that the expansion of the universe is accelerating and such acceleration is attributable to a mysterious force known as dark energy. The findings counter recent headlines that Type Ia supernova cannot be relied upon to measure the expansion of the universe.

Scientists confirm the universe has no direction   PhysOrg - September 25, 2016
The universe is not spinning or stretched in any particular direction, according to the most stringent test yet. Looking out into the night sky, we see a clumpy universe: planets orbit stars in solar systems and stars are grouped into galaxies, which in turn form enormous galaxy clusters. But cosmologists assume this effect is only local: that if we look on sufficiently large scales, the universe is actually uniform. The vast majority of calculations made about our universe start with this assumption: that the universe is broadly the same, whatever your position and in whichever direction you look. If, however, the universe was stretching preferentially in one direction, or spinning about an axis in a similar way to the Earth rotating, this fundamental assumption, and all the calculations that hinge on it, would be wrong.

Explaining why the universe can be 'transparent': Universe's re-ionization is based on a galaxy's dust content   Science Daily - September 13, 2016

The Universe's re-ionization is based on a galaxy's dust content. Scientists can explain why the universe has enough energy to become transparent. The study marks the first quantitative study of how the gas content within galaxies scales with the amount of interstellar dust. Re-ionization, which marks the point at which the hydrogen in the Universe became ionized, has become a major area of current research in astrophysics. Ionization made the Universe transparent to these photons, allowing the release of light from sources to travel mostly freely through the cosmos.

Does the Universe Have an Edge?   Live Science - June 2, 2016
Scientists now know the universe is expanding, at an ever-increasing rate. So if it's ballooning, what is it growing into? In other words, what is beyond the known universe? Defining this "beyond the universe" would imply that the universe has an edge. And that's where things get tricky, because scientists aren't certain if such a drop-off exists. The answer depends on how one views the question.

Five billion light years across: The largest feature in the universe   Science Daily - August 4, 2015

Astronomers have found what appears to be the largest feature in the observable universe: a ring of nine gamma ray bursts -- and hence galaxies - 5 billion light years across. Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most luminous events in the universe, releasing as much energy in a few seconds as the Sun does over its 10 billion year lifetime. They are thought to be the result of massive stars collapsing into black holes. Their huge luminosity helps astronomers to map out the location of distant galaxies, something the team exploited. The GRBs that make up the newly discovered ring were observed using a variety of space- and ground-based observatories. They appear to be at very similar distances from us -- around 7 billion light years -- in a circle 36° across on the sky, or more than 70 times the diameter of the Full Moon.

Assembly of galaxies in the early universe witnessed for the first time   Science Daily - July 22, 2015
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has been used to detect the most distant clouds of star-forming gas yet found in normal galaxies in the early universe. The new observations allow astronomers to start to see how the first galaxies were built up and how they cleared the cosmic fog during the era of reionization. This is the first time that such galaxies are seen as more than just faint blobs. When the first galaxies started to form a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, the Universe was full of a fog of hydrogen gas. But as more and more brilliant sources -- both stars and quasars powered by huge black holes -- started to shine they cleared away the mist and made the Universe transparent to ultraviolet light . Astronomers call this the epoch of reionisation, but little is known about these first galaxies, and up to now they have just been seen as very faint blobs. But now new observations using the power of ALMA are starting to change this.

Is the universe ringing like a crystal glass?   PhysOrg - June 27, 2015

Many know the phrase "the big bang theory." There's even a top television comedy series with that as its title. According to scientists, the universe began with the "big bang" and expanded to the size it is today. Yet, the gravity of all of this matter, stars, gas, galaxies, and mysterious dark matter, tries to pull the universe back together, slowing down the expansion. Now, two physicists at The University of Southern Mississippi, Lawrence Mead and Harry Ringermacher, have discovered that the universe might not only be expanding, but also oscillating or "ringing" at the same time.

What shape is the universe?   PhysOrg - May 12, 2015

The universe. It's the only home we've ever known. Thanks to its intrinsic physical laws, the known constants of nature, and the heavy-metal-spewing fireballs known as supernovae we are little tiny beings held fast to a spinning ball of rock in a distant corner of space and time. Doesn't it seem a little rude not to know much about the universe itself? For instance, if we could look at it from outside, what would we see? A vast blackness? A sea of bubbles? Snow globe? Rat maze? A marble in the hands of a larger-dimensional aliens or some other prog rock album cover?

Physicists offer a solution to the puzzle of the origin of matter in the universe   Science Daily - February 26, 2015

Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, but stars and planets are made of particles, or matter, and not antiparticles, or antimatter. That asymmetry, which favors matter to a very small degree, has puzzled scientists for many years. Physicists offer a possible solution to the mystery of the origin of matter in the universe. Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, but stars and planets are made of particles, or matter, and not antiparticles, or antimatter. That asymmetry, which favors matter to a very small degree, has puzzled scientists for many years.

Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn   Science Daily - February 26, 2015

The discovery of the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time presents a puzzle to researchers: How could something so massive and luminous form so early in the universe, only 900 million years after the Big Bang?

  The black hole at the birth of the Universe   PhysOrg - August 8, 2014

Our universe may have emerged from a black hole in a higher-dimensional universe, propose a trio of Perimeter Institute researchers. The big bang poses a big question: if it was indeed the cataclysm that blasted our universe into existence 13.7 billion years ago, what sparked it? In our three-dimensional universe, black holes have two-dimensional event horizons – that is, they are surrounded by a two-dimensional boundary that marks the "point of no return." In the case of a four-dimensional universe, a black hole would have a three-dimensional event horizon.

Universe Shouldn't Be Here, According to Higgs Physics   Live Science - June 25, 2014

The universe shouldn't exist - at least according to a new theory. Modeling of conditions soon after the Big Bang suggests the universe should have collapsed just microseconds after its explosive birth, the new study suggests. During the early universe, we expected cosmic inflation - this is a rapid expansion of the universe right after the Big Bang. This expansion causes lots of stuff to shake around, and if we shake it too much, we could go into this new energy space, which could cause the universe to collapse.

  Universe evolution recreated in lab   BBC- May 8, 2014

An international team of researchers has created the most complete visual simulation of how the Universe evolved. The computer model shows how the first galaxies formed around clumps of a mysterious, invisible substance called dark matter. It is the first time that the Universe has been modelled so extensively and to such great resolution.

Cosmos speed-check probes dark energy   BBC - April 7, 2014

Scientists have produced their most precise measurement yet of the rate at which the early Universe was expanding. They find that some three billion years after the Big Bang, the cosmos was pushing itself apart by another 1% every 44 million years.

Major Big Bang Discovery Brings 'Theory of Everything' a Bit Closer to Reality   Live Science - March 21, 2014

The discovery that the universe really did expand at many times the speed of light immediately after the Big Bang should bring physicists slightly closer to their ultimate goal - the long-sought "Theory of Everything." The bottom part of this illustration shows the scale of the universe versus time. Specific events are shown such as the formation of neutral Hydrogen at 380 000 years after the big bang. Prior to this time, the constant interaction between matter (electrons) and light (photons) made the universe opaque. After this time, the photons we now call the CMB started streaming freely.

Cosmic Microwave Map Swirls Indicate Inflation   NASA - March 17, 2014

Did the universe undergo an early epoch of extremely rapid expansion? Such an inflationary epoch has been postulated to explain several puzzling cosmic attributes such as why our universe looks similar in opposite directions. Yesterday, results were released showing an expected signal of unexpected strength, bolstering a prediction of inflation that specific patterns of polarization should exist in cosmic microwave background radiation -- light emitted 13.8 billion years ago as the universe first became transparent. Called B-mode polarizations, these early swirling patterns can be directly attributed to squeeze and stretch effects that gravitational radiation has on photon-emitting electrons. The surprising results were discovered in data from the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2) microwave observatory near the South Pole. BICEP2 is the building-mounted dish pictured above on the left. Note how the black polarization vectors appear to swirl around the colored temperature peaks on the inset microwave sky map. Although statistically compelling, the conclusions will likely remain controversial while confirmation attempts are made with independent observations.

The oldest star in the universe? Maybe, maybe not   PhysOrg - February 14, 2014

This week, the international media has trumpeted the discovery by Australian scientists of the oldest star in the universe, with the catchy name SMSS J031300.36-670839.3, formed in the almost pristine gas soon after the Big Bang. This would mean the star has been slowly burning away for almost 13.7 billion years. But this story may leave those that follow the scientific media scratching their heads slightly, as only six months ago the media telling us about HD 140283, the Methuselah Star, whose best-estimated age is almost 14.5 billion years. This formally makes HD 140283 older than the universe itself, but the uncertainty in the age, by about 800,000 years, could bring it back into line with our cosmological measurements for the universe's age.

What's the Universe Made Of? Math, Says Scientist   Live Science - January 30, 2014

Brooklyn, NY - Scientists have long used mathematics to describe the physical properties of the universe. But what if the universe itself is math? That's what MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark believes. In Tegmark's view, everything in the universe - humans included - is part of a mathematical structure. All matter is made up of particles, which have properties such as charge and spin, but these properties are purely mathematical, he says. And space itself has properties such as dimensions, but is still ultimately a mathematical structure. "If you accept the idea that both space itself, and all the stuff in space, have no properties at all except mathematical properties," then the idea that everything is mathematical "starts to sound a little bit less insane," Tegmark said in a talk given Jan. 15 here at The Bell House. The talk was based on his book "Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality" (Knopf, 2014). "If my idea is wrong, physics is ultimately doomed," Tegmark said. But if the universe really is mathematics, he added, "There's nothing we can't, in principle, understand."

What is the Shape of the Universe?   Space.com - January 17, 2014

If you could somehow manage to step outside of the universe, what would it look like? Scientists have struggled with this question, taking several different measurements in order to determine the geometry of the cosmos and whether or not it will come to an end. How do they measure the shape of the universe? And what have they found? According to Einstein's theory of General Relativity, space itself can be curved by mass. As a result, the density of the universe how much mass it has spread over its volume determines its shape, as well as its future.

Universe measured to 1% accuracy   BBC - January 9, 2014
Astronomers have measured the distances between galaxies in the universe to an accuracy of just 1%. This staggeringly precise survey - across six billion light-years - is key to mapping the cosmos and determining the nature of dark energy. The new gold standard was set by BOSS (the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey) using the Sloan Foundation Telescope in New Mexico, US.

Subtle Distortion in Universe's Oldest Light: Swirls in Remnants of Big Bang May Hold Clues to Universe's Infancy   Science Daily - December 16, 2013

South Pole Telescope scientists have detected for the first time a subtle distortion in the oldest light in the universe, which may help reveal secrets about the earliest moments in the universe's formation.

Cosmologist suggests universe might not be expanding after all   PhysOrg - August 14, 2013
For nearly a century, the consensus among astrophysicists has been that the universe started with a Big Bang and has been expanding ever since. This hypothesis formed because researchers found that in analyzing the light emitted from stars, a redshift occurred - where its frequency changes as an object that emits light moves away from us. But Wetterich says the redshift might me due to something else - an increase in the total mass in the universe.

The beginning of everything: A new paradigm shift for the infant universe   PhysOrg - November 29, 2012
A new paradigm for understanding the earliest eras in the history of the universe has been developed by scientists at Penn State University. Using techniques from an area of modern physics called loop quantum cosmology, the scientists now have extended analyses that include quantum physics farther back in time than ever before - all the way to the beginning. The new paradigm of loop quantum origins shows, for the first time, that the large-scale structures we now see in the universe evolved from fundamental fluctuations in the essential quantum nature of "space-time," which existed even at the very beginning of the universe over 14 billion years ago. The achievement also provides new opportunities for testing competing theories of modern cosmology against breakthrough observations expected from next-generation telescopes.

Astronomers discover complex organic matter in the universe   PhysOrg - October 26, 2011
Organic compounds of unexpected complexity exist throughout the Universe. The results suggest that complex organic compounds are not the sole domain of life but can be made naturally by stars.

The Big Bang: What Really Happened at Our Universe's Birth?   Live Science - October 21, 2011

Our universe was born about 13.7 billion years ago in a massive expansion that blew space up like a gigantic balloon. That, in a nutshell, is the Big Bang theory, which virtually all cosmologists and theoretical physicists endorse. The evidence supporting the idea is extensive and convincing. We know, for example, that the universe is still expanding even now, at an ever-accelerating rate.

The first detection of abundant carbon in the early universe   PhysOrg - October 6, 2011
A research team of astronomers, has successfully detected a carbon emission line in the most distant radio galaxy known so far in the early universe. Their investigation of the detected carbon line showed that a significant amount of carbon existed as early as 12.5 billion years ago, less than a billion years after the Big Bang. This important finding contributes to our understanding of the chemical evolution of the universe and may provide clues about the chemical nature of humans, who are composed of various elements such as carbon and oxygen.

Telescope snaps stunning 1st photo of cosmos   MSNBC - October 3, 2011

After years of planning, construction and assembly, a gigantic observatory billed as the world's most complex array of ground-based telescopes has opened its eyes in South America and captured its first image. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, is now officially open for business high in the Chilean Andes. The huge $1.3 billion radio telescope, a collaboration of many nations and institutions, should help astronomers explore some of the coldest and most distant objects in the universe, researchers said.

  Alma radio telescope begins study of cosmic dawn   BBC - October 3, 2011

One of the 21st Century's grand scientific undertakings has begun its quest to view the "Cosmic Dawn". The Atacama large milllimetre/submillimetre array (Alma) in Chile is the largest, most complex telescope ever built. Alma's purpose is to study processes occurring a few hundred million years after the formation of the Universe when the first stars began to shine. Its work should help explain why the cosmos looks the way it does today. One of Alma's scientific operations astronomers, Dr Diego Garcia, said that the effective switching on of the giant telescope ushered in a "new golden age of astronomy".

Astronomers Find Largest, Oldest Mass of Water in Universe   Live Science - July 23, 2011

Astronomers have discovered the largest and oldest mass of water ever detected in the universe - a gigantic, 12-billion-year-old cloud harboring 140 trillion times more water than all of Earth's oceans combined. "This discovery pushes the detection of water one billion years closer to the Big Bang than any previous find.

The universe may have been born spinning, according to new findings on the symmetry of the cosmos   PhysOrg - July 8, 2011
Physicists and astronomers have long believed that the universe has mirror symmetry, like a basketball. But recent findings from the University of Michigan suggest that the shape of the Big Bang might be more complicated than previously thought, and that the early universe spun on an axis.

Dark statistics   PhysOrg - March 28, 2011

The hypothetical dark flow seen in the movement of galaxy clusters requires that we can reliably identify a clear statistical correlation in the motion of distant objects which are, in any case, flowing outwards with the expansion of the universe and may also have their own individual (or peculiar) motion arising from gravitational interactions.

Scientists find first evidence that many universes exist   PhysOrg - December 19, 2010
By looking far out into space and observing what’s going on there, scientists have been led to theorize that it all started with a Big Bang, immediately followed by a brief period of super-accelerated expansion called inflation. Perhaps this was the beginning of everything, but lately a few scientists have been wondering if something could have come before that, setting up the initial conditions for the birth of our universe.

Cosmos may show echoes of events before Big Bang   BBC - November 27, 2010

Evidence of events that happened before the Big Bang can be seen in the glow of microwave radiation that fills the Universe, scientists have asserted. Renowned cosmologist Roger Penrose said that analysis of this cosmic microwave background showed echoes of previous Big Bang-like events. The events appear as "rings" around galaxy clusters in which the variation in the background is unusually low.

Early Universe was a liquid: First results from the Large Hadron Collider's ALICE experiment   PhysOrg - November 23, 2010

The very early Universe was not only very hot and dense but behaved like a hot liquid.

Dark energy and flat Universe exposed by simple method   BBC - November 25, 2010
Researchers have developed a simple technique that adds evidence to the theory that the Universe is flat. Moreover, the method - developed by revisiting a 30-year-old idea - confirms that "dark energy" makes up nearly three-quarters of the Universe. Author Christian Marinoni says the idea turns estimating the Universe's shape into "primary school" geometry. While the idea of the Earth being flat preoccupied the first philosophers millennia ago, the question of whether the Universe itself is flat remains a debatable topic. The degree to which the Universe is curved has an effect on what astronomers see when they look into the cosmos. A telescope on or near Earth may see an image of a celestial object differently from how the object actually looks, because the very fabric of space and time bends the light coming from it.

Dark Energy Measurement Sheds New Light on Universe's Expansion   PhysOrg - July 16, 2010
Through observations of massive galaxy clusters, scientists have made the most precise measurements to date of the effects of dark energy and gravity on cosmological scales. This work is an important step toward understanding why the expansion of the universe is accelerating. Something is pushing our universe apart, faster and faster, with each passing moment, and future work using similar methods should determine whether that something is dark energy or a change in the way gravity works on cosmological scales.

  Planck satellite unveils the Universe -- now and then   PhysOrg - July 5, 2010

ESA's Planck mission has delivered its first all-sky image. It not only provides new insight into the way stars and galaxies form but also tells us how the Universe itself came to life after the Big Bang. From the closest portions of the Milky Way to the furthest reaches of space and time, the new all-sky Planck image is an extraordinary treasure chest of new data for astronomers. The main disc of our Galaxy runs across the centre of the image. Immediately striking are the streamers of cold dust reaching above and below the Milky Way. This galactic web is where new stars are being formed, and Planck has found many locations where individual stars are edging toward birth or just beginning their cycle of development.

Our universe at home within a larger universe? So suggests wormhole research   PhysOrg - April 6, 2010

Einstein-Rosen bridges like the one visualized above have never been observed in nature, but they provide theoretical physicists and cosmologists with solutions in general relativity by combining models of black holes and white holes. Could our universe be located within the interior of a wormhole which itself is part of a black hole that lies within a much larger universe? Such a scenario in which the universe is born from inside a wormhole (also called an Einstein-Rosen Bridge). In studying the radial motion through the event horizon (a black hole's boundary) of two different types of black holes -- Schwarzschild and Einstein-Rosen, both of which are mathematically legitimate solutions of general relativity -- Poplawski admits that only experiment or observation can reveal the motion of a particle falling into an actual black hole. But he also notes that since observers can only see the outside of the black hole, the interior cannot be observed unless an observer enters or resides within.

Immaculate Black Holes Found Near Universe's Conception   National Geographic - March 19, 2010

A newfound pair of ancient, supermassive black holes may lift the veil on how stars and galaxies form, a new study says. That's because the black holes, which belong to a special group known as quasars, are what astronomers are calling the first "immaculate" and thus unobscured by dust clouds quasars ever found. Quasars lie at the hearts of galaxies, and are thousands to millions of times more massive than stellar black holes, which are created when huge stars die. Quasars also emit enormous amounts of light, making them detectable even from the very edge of the observable universe. Because it takes billions of years for light to reach us from the edge of the visible universe, the data we receive from these regions actually allows scientists to look back in time. But most quasars—which were "conceived" less than a billion years after the big bang—are also surrounded by doughnut-shaped clouds of dust and gas that make observations difficult

Dark Matter And Dark Energy Make Up 95 Percent Of Universe, Detailed Measurements Reveal   Science Daily - November 4, 2009

A detailed picture of the seeds of structures in the universe has been unveiled by an international team co-led by Sarah Church of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, jointly located at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, and by Walter Gear, of Cardiff University in the United Kingdom. These measurements of the cosmic microwave background -- a faintly glowing relic of the hot, dense, young universe -- put limits on proposed alternatives to the standard model of cosmology and provide further support for the standard cosmological model, confirming that dark matter and dark energy make up 95% of everything in existence, while ordinary matter makes up just 5%. The light from the early universe was initially unpolarized but became polarized when it struck moving matter in the very early universe. By creating maps of this polarization, the QUaD team was able to investigate not just where the matter existed, but also how it was moving.

The universe is beige   Telegraph.co.uk - November 2, 2009
With its jewel-like star clusters, swirling galaxies and orange Suns, pictures of the universe are usually impossibly beautiful and brightly colored. But as Nasa has pointed out the real colour of outer space would not look out of place on an office wall: it is beige. After studying the color of light emitted by 200,000 galaxies scientists have combined them to produce the color, they have dubbed 'cosmic latte'. Other names suggested for it were 'univeige' and 'skyvory'. But apparently this color has changed over the last six billion years as the predominant color has shifted from blue to more of a red.

The Average Color of the Universe is Beige   NASA - November 2, 2009

What color is the universe? More precisely, if the entire sky were smeared out, what color would the final mix be? This whimsical question came up when trying to determine what stars are commonplace in nearby galaxies. The answer, depicted above, is a conditionally perceived shade of beige. To determine this, astronomers computationally averaged the light emitted by one of the largest sample of galaxies yet analyzed: the 200,000 galaxies of the 2dF survey. The resulting cosmic spectrum has some emission in all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, but a single perceived composite color. This color has become much less blue over the past 10 billion years, indicating that redder stars are becoming more prevalent. In a contest to better name the color, notable entries included skyvory, univeige, and the winner: cosmic latte.

Stellar blast is record-breaker   BBC - October 29, 2009

Astronomers have confirmed that an exploding star spotted by Nasa's Swift satellite is the most distant cosmic object to be detected by telescopes. In the journal Nature, two teams of astronomers report their observations of a gamma-ray burst from a star that died 13.1 billion light-years away. The massive star died about 630 million years after the Big Bang. UK astronomer Nial Tanvir described the observation as "a step back in cosmic time".

Most Distant Object Found; Light Pierced "Dark Age" Fog   National Geographic - October 28, 2009

The most distant object yet spied in the universe is the remnant of a star about 13 billion light-years from Earth that sheds new light on the earliest days of the universe. Two different teams of astronomers studied a brief but powerful flash of light, called a gamma-ray burst, from the star explosion. ecause of the time it takes for light to travel such distances, scientists think the exploded star must have been born about 600 million years after the big bang, when the universe was just 4 percent of its current age. This means that the gamma-ray burst offers an unprecedented peek into a mysterious period known as the cosmic dark ages, which lasted from shortly after the big bang until about 900 to 800 million years thereafter. Astronomers think the first stars started forming during the dark ages. But few such stars have ever been spotted, because the early universe was fogged with hydrogen gas that shrouded the starlight.

Physicists Calculate Number of Parallel Universes   PhysOrg - October 18, 2009
Over the past few decades, the idea that our universe could be one of many alternate universes within a giant multiverse has grown from a sci-fi fantasy into a legitimate theoretical possibility. Several theories of physics and astronomy have hypothesized the existence of a multiverse made of many parallel universes. One obvious question that arises, then, is exactly how many of these parallel universes might there be.

Cataclysmic explosion of a giant star early in the history of the Universe is most distant single object ever detected BBC - April 28, 2009

The cataclysmic explosion of a giant star early in the history of the Universe is the most distant single object ever detected by telescopes. The colossal blast was picked up first by Nasa's Swift space observatory which is tuned to see the high-energy gamma-rays emitted from extreme events. Other telescopes then followed up the signal, confirming the source to be more than 13 billion light-years away. Scientists say the star's destruction probably resulted in a black hole.

The Farthest Explosion Yet Measured - 13 billion light years away   NASA - April 29, 2009

An explosion so powerful it was seen clear across the visible universe was recorded in gamma-radiation last week by NASA's orbiting Swift Observatory. Farther than any known galaxy, quasar, or optical supernova, the gamma-ray burst recorded last week was clocked at redshift 8.2, making it the farthest explosion of any type yet detected. Occurring only 630 million years after the Big Bang, GRB 090423 detonated so early that astronomers had no direct evidence that anything explodable even existed back then. The faint infrared afterglow of GRB 090423 was recovered by large ground telescopes within minutes of being discovered. The afterglow is circled in the above picture taken by the large Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii, USA. An exciting possibility is that this gamma-ray burst occurred in one of the very first generation of stars and announced the birth of an early black hole. Surely, GRB 090423 provides unique data from a relatively unexplored epoch in our universe and a distant beacon from which the intervening universe can be studied.

Most Distant Detection Of Water In The Universe   Science Daily - April 26, 2009

Astronomers have found the most distant signs of water in the Universe to date. The water vapor is thought to be contained in a jet ejected from a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy, named MG J0414+0534. The water emission is seen as a maser, where molecules in the gas amplify and emit beams of microwave radiation in much the same way as a laser emits beams of light. The faint signal is only detectable by using a technique called gravitational lensing, where the gravity of a massive galaxy in the foreground acts as a cosmic telescope, bending and magnifying light from the distant galaxy to make a clover-leaf pattern of four images of MG J0414+0534. The water maser was only detectable in the brightest two of these images.

'Wet' Early Universe: Water Vapor Detected At Record Distance    Science Daily - December 19, 2008

Scientists have used the 100 m Effelsberg radio telescope to detect water at the greatest distance from Earth so far. The water vapor was discovered in a quasar which corresponds to a light travel time of 11.1 billion years, a time when the Universe was only a fifth of the age it is today. The water vapor is thought to exist in clouds of dust and gas that feed the supermassive black hole at the center of the distant quasar. The detection was later confirmed by high-resolution interferometric observations with the Expanded Very Large Array.

Cosmic 'treasure trove' revealed   BBC - March 11, 2008

Nasa space probe measuring the oldest light in the Universe has found that cosmic neutrinos made up 10% of matter shortly after the Big Bang. Temperature fluctuations in the afterglow from the infant Universe: red regions are warmer and blue are cooler. A Nasa space probe measuring the oldest light in the Universe has found that cosmic neutrinos made up 10% of matter shortly after the Big Bang. Five years of study data also shows that the first stars took over half a billion years to light up the Universe. Neutrinos made up a much larger part of the early Universe than they do now. Cosmologists believe neutrinos were present in such abundance shortly after the Big Bang that they influenced the initial development of the Universe.

Mysterious Explosion Detected In The Distant Past, Halfway Back To Big Bang   Science Daily - January 9, 2008

Unexplained Hole in the Universe

Using the powerful one-two combo of NASA’s Swift satellite and the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have detected a mysterious type of cosmic explosion farther back in time than ever before. The explosion, known as a short gamma-ray burst (GRB), took place 7.4 billion years ago, more than halfway back to the Big Bang. GRBs are among the most powerful explosions in the universe, releasing enormous amounts of energy in the form of X-rays and gamma rays. Most bursts fall in one of two categories: long bursts and short bursts, depending on whether they last longer or shorter than three seconds. Astronomers think that long GRBs are triggered by the collapse and explosion of massive stars. In contrast, a variety of mechanisms have been proposed for short bursts. The most popular model says that most short GRBs occur when two neutron stars smash into each other and collapse into a black hole, ejecting energy in two counterflowing beams. The record-setting short burst is known as GRB 070714B, since it was the second GRB detected on July 14, 2007. Swift discovered the GRB in the constellation Taurus. The burst’s high energy and 3-second duration firmly place it in the short GRB category. Rapid follow-up observations with the 2-meter Liverpool Telescope and the 4-meter William Herschel Telescope found an optical afterglow in the same location as the burst, which allowed astronomers to identify the GRB’s host galaxy.

Ancient Star Is Nearly as Old as Universe   National Geographic - May 12, 2007

Astronomers have spied a granddaddy of the galaxy - a 13.2-billion-year-old star formed soon after the big bang 13.7 billion years ago. This "galactic fossil," called HE 1523-0901, was discovered using the Munich-based European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope Project. The set of four 26-foot-long (eight-meter-long) optical telescopes together make up the largest optical telescope in the world. Frebel and colleagues carefully measured the concentration of radioactive elements thorium or uranium, which is only possible with huge telescopes such as ESO's VLT. The telescope captured a high-quality image of HE 1523-0901 after observing it for 7.5 hours. The measurement technique, which relies on tracing radioactive decay, is similar to carbon-14 dating, long used by archaeologists. Yet astronomers have to reach back billions of years further than archaeologists.

Newfound blob is biggest thing in universe   National Geographic - July 31, 2006

Japanese astronomers have discovered what they call the largest object in the universe: a colossal structure 200 million light-years wide that resembles a swarm of giant green jellyfish. Using the Subaru and Keck telescopes on the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii, the research team found an enormous object containing clusters of galaxies surrounded by gas clouds known as Lyman.

The Universe trapped in its own web   PhysOrg - April 4, 2006

Astronomers from the University of Nottingham, UK, and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (Spain), have found the first observational evidence that galaxies are not randomly oriented. Instead, they are aligned following a characteristic pattern dictated by the large-scale structure of the invisible dark matter that surrounds them. This discovery confirms one of the fundamental aspects of galaxy formation theory and implies a direct link between the global properties of the Universe and the individual properties of galaxies. Galaxy formation theories predicted such an effect, but its empirical verification has remained elusive until now.

Superwind discovered spreading Star Dust across the Universe   PhysOrg - July 13, 2005

A team of astronomers, led by the University of Durham, has discovered the aftermath of a spectacular explosion in a galaxy 11.5 billion light years away. Their observations, reported today (14th July 2005) in the journal Nature provide the most direct evidence yet of a galaxy being almost torn apart by explosions that produce a stream of high-speed material known as "Superwinds". The observations were made using the 4.2 metre William Herschel Telescope on La Palma in which the UK is a major stakeholder.

Early Universe was 'liquid-like'   BBC - April 19, 2005

Physicists say they have created a new state of hot, dense matter by crashing together the nuclei of gold atoms. The high-energy collisions open the nuclei to reveal their most basic particles, known as quarks and gluons. The researchers, at the US Brookhaven National Laboratory, say these particles were seen to behave as an almost perfect "liquid". The work is expected to help scientists explain the conditions that existed just milliseconds after the Big Bang.

'Birth cry' of the cosmos heard   BBC - June 2004
Over the first million years the music of the cosmos changed from a bright major chord to a sombre minor one. Astronomers have recaptured the sounds of the early Universe showing it was born not with a bang but a quiet whisper that became a dull roar. Mark Whittle of the University of Virginia has analyzed the so-called background radiation that was born 400,000 years after the Big Bang. Ripples in the radiation are like sound waves bouncing through the cosmos. Over the first million years the music of the cosmos changed from a bright major chord to a sombre minor one. During the expansion there is a change in the frequencies of the sound waves that results in the characteristic sound of the Universe changing from a major third chord to a minor third.

Cosmos is a billion years older than thought   BBC - May 2004
A readjustment gives the Universe an age of 14.7 instead of 13.7 billion years. The new result comes from Luna - the Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics - situated underneath Gran Sasso mountain in Italy.The result obtained suggests that the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle takes place at half the rate as was believed. The implications are that massive stars live longer than was first thought, a factor that affects estimates of the age of the Universe based on the ages of the oldest stars.

Universe is Finite, "Soccer Ball"-Shaped   National Geographic - October 2003

A new study of astronomical data only recently available hints at a possible answer: The universe is finite and bears a rough resemblance to a soccer ball or, more accurately, a dodecahedron, a 12-sided volume bounded by pentagons. If proven by further evidence and scrutiny, the model would represent a major discovery about the nature of the cosmos.

Cosmos is 'shaped like a soccerball'   BBC - October 2003

We could be living in a small Universe where space is curved in on itself, rather like a soccerball. More precisely, we may inhabit a dodecahedral cosmos. Dodecahedrons, and similar shapes, have long fascinated mankind. Plato believed that the Universe was made up of them. Leonardo da Vinci also studied them, as did the great astronomer Kepler, who thought the structure of the Solar System was based on geometrical shapes.