On Sept. 22, 2017, a ghostly particle ejected from a far distant supermassive black hole zipped down from the sky and through the ice of Antarctica at just below the speed of light, with an energy of some 300 trillion electron volts, nearly 50 times the energy delivered by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the biggest particle accelerator on Earth.
A strange dark-matter phenomenon is speeding towards the Sun at speeds of 500 kilometers per second according to a 2018 study led by theoretical physicist Ciaran O’Hare from the University of Zaragoza in Spain. Billions of years ago, a dwarf galaxy was shred apart by the extreme tidal forces of our larger Milky Way Galaxy. The remnant galaxy now forms a stream, called S1, that arcs around the halo of our Galaxy. The stream is composed of tens of thousands of visible stars, and also up to a billion solar masses of invisible dark matter.
Some scientists have suggested that in our anxious search for the answer to the Fermi Paradox –“are we alone in the cosmos”–we’re searching for intelligent, conscious, tool-making beings that have developed a language we’re capable of understanding, we are, in fact, searching for ourselves .
“We do not know what dark matter is, but if it has anything to do with any scalar particles, it may be older than the Big Bang,” says astrophysicist Tommi Tenkanen at the Johns Hopkins University, who was not part of a 2019 University of Tokyo study that proposed the axion as a candidate for dark matter. The only fundamental scalar quantum field that has been observed in nature is the Higgs field-a field of energy that is thought to exist in every region of the universe.
Miguel Zumalacarregui was a Marie Curie Global Fellow at the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics prior to joining The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Einstein Institute) in 2021. A Google Scholar, his research is directed towards finding new theoretical and observational approaches to the problem of cosmic acceleration, the nature of dark matter, and their connections to fundamental physics.
“Researchers argue that it’s of utmost importance to unravel the nature of black holes, lest we someday begin to worship them,” said Harvard astrophysicist, Eric Chaisson. In April 2019 an event took place that was as epic as the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, and may make Chaisson’s warning seem prescient.
Editor, Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist, Senior Scientist with AMNH. Jackie was formerly a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Aside from a love of scientific research, she is a passionate educator and can often be found giving public lectures in the Hayden Planetarium. Her research team has won multiple grants from NASA, NSF, and the Heising Simons foundation to support projects focused on characterising planet-like objects. She has also co-founded the popular citizen science project entitled Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 which invites the general public to help scan the solar neighbourhood for previously missed cold worlds. A Google Scholar, Faherty has over 100 peer reviewed articles in astrophysical journals and has been an invited speaker at universities and conferences across the globe. Jackie received the 2020 Vera Rubin Early Career Prize from the American Astronomical Society, an award that recognises scientists who have made an impact in the field of dynamical astronomy and the 2021 Robert H Goddard Award for science accomplishments.
Invisible radio signals from the cosmos have revealed previously unknown phenomena from prebiotic molecules in a starburst about 250 million light-years from Earth to the true rotation of Mercury. But the most famous occurred on August 6, 1967, when a squiggly stretch of high-speed recordings occupying less than a quarter-inch of astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s radio-telescope readouts revealed the first sign of something strange — an unknown cosmic mystery.