Astrophoto: M83 by R. Jay GaBany

Our understanding of the Universe is written in pencil on the pages of a loose-leaf notebook because, like many of the sciences, our knowledge of nature is constantly undergoing revision. For example, during the past few years a quiet revolution has been taking place regarding galaxies, black holes and their increasingly understood symbiotic relationship. Black …

Fine Tuning the Search for Black Holes

Although black holes can’t be seen directly, they’re relatively easy to find. Matter spiraling into a black hole becomes superheated, shines brightly, and is visible across the Universe. A new supercomputer simulation has fine tuned the energy calculations for atoms in the vicinity of a black hole. This is very important, because astronomers working on …

Finding a Fourth Dimension

Braneworld challenges Einstein’s general relativity. Image credit: NASA. Click to enlarge Scientists have been intrigued for years about the possibility that there are additional dimensions beyond the three we humans can understand. Now researchers from Duke and Rutgers universities think there’s a way to test for five-dimensional theory (4 spatial dimensions plus time) of gravity …

What’s Up This Week – May 29 – June 4, 2006

M83: “The Southern Pinwheel”. Image credit: Bill Schoening/NOAO/AURA/NSF. Click to enlarge. Greetings, fellow SkyWatchers! Let’s hope clear skies have returned to your area as we begin the week with a look at the incredible M83. As the Moon returns, we’ll study the features and be in for some excitement as it occults asteroid Vesta. Stay …

Before the Big Bang

Researchers have developed a model of a shrinking universe that existed prior to the Big Bang. Image credit: NASA. Click to enlarge The Big Bang describes how the Universe began as a single point 13.7 billion years ago, and has been expanding ever since, but it doesn’t explain what happened before that. Researchers from Penn …

Modifying Gravity to Account for Dark Matter

Researchers at the University of St. Andrews and the Free University of Brussels think they have a solution that “fine-tunes” Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of gravity to help account for the effect of dark matter. Dr Hong Sheng Zhao and Dr Benoit Famaey have created a new formula that allows the strength of gravity to vary over galactic distances, perfectly matching observations made by astronomers.