Could gravitational waves help us find dark matter?

Over the last few years, gravitational waves have revolutionised physics. Sensitive instruments like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), Virgo and KAGRA have spotted these ripples in spacetime emanating out from collisions between black holes and neutron stars billions of light-years away. But can gravitational waves find dark matter? Now, researchers think that gravitational wave … Continue reading Could gravitational waves help us find dark matter?

When gravitational waves and dark matter collide

It’s hard to resist any physics story that starts with Albert Einstein. More than a century ago – in 1916, to be precise – the great theorist suggested that gravitational waves could be a natural outcome of his general theory of relativity. He was right: gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime itself. … Continue reading When gravitational waves and dark matter collide

Genius lair: Australia’s dark matter experiment underfoot

This article first appeared in Cosmos Weekly on 13 August 2021. For more stories like this, subscribe to Cosmos Weekly. Deep in a gold mine on the outskirts of the small Victorian country town of Stawell, several hours’ drive to the north-west of Melbourne, a lab is being built to find one of the universe’s … Continue reading Genius lair: Australia’s dark matter experiment underfoot

Genius lair: Australia’s dark matter experiment underfoot

Deep in a gold mine on the outskirts of the small Victorian country town of Stawell, several hours’ drive to the north-west of Melbourne, a lab is being built to find one of the universe’s most elusive substances: dark matter. The lab, located a kilometre underground, currently looks more like a tennis-court sized cave than … Continue reading Genius lair: Australia’s dark matter experiment underfoot

You may have missed…

Mailing freeze-dried mouse sperm on a postcard Have you ever worried about a fragile parcel breaking in the post? Scientists stress about this all the time – sometimes because they don’t want to break precious bottles of mouse sperm, sent between institutions for research. Now, Japanese scientists have come up with a comical but handy … Continue reading You may have missed…

Largest-ever map of dark matter

The Dark Energy Survey collaboration has just released 30 new papers from the first three years of their observing run, including the largest-ever map of the distribution of dark matter. We know that ordinary matter makes up just 5% of the universe, while dark energy (which forces the universe to expand at ever-increasing speed) comprises … Continue reading Largest-ever map of dark matter

Baby galaxies born big

The first galaxies in the universe were likely more massive than previously thought, according to new research from MIT astrophysicists. Dozens of dwarf galaxies orbit the Milky Way like satellites, and some of these are so metal-poor that they must have formed billions of years ago, before the universe was producing heavy elements. These galactic … Continue reading Baby galaxies born big

Milliseconds measure galactic gravity

Scientists measuring tiny changes in the arrival times of signals from millisecond pulsars have found a new way to measure both gravitational waves and the galaxy’s distribution of dark matter. Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars that, like cosmic lighthouses, beam out radio signals that sweep the heavens – beams that can be detected by … Continue reading Milliseconds measure galactic gravity

SpaceWatch: A matter about dark matter

Dark matter theories may lack something Astronomers suspect something is missing in current theories of how dark matter behaves. An international team has uncovered an unexpected discrepancy between observations of the dark matter concentrations in a sample of massive galaxy clusters and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed in clusters. The … Continue reading SpaceWatch: A matter about dark matter

The heartbeats of pulsing stars

By listening to the beating hearts of stars, astronomers have for the first time identified a rhythm of life for a class of stellar objects that had until now puzzled scientists. The international team of researchers used data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a space telescope mainly used to detect planets around some of … Continue reading The heartbeats of pulsing stars

Another twist in the dark matter story

US researchers say we can rule out dark matter being responsible for mysterious electromagnetic signals previously observed from nearby galaxies.  There were high hopes these signals would provide hard evidence to help identify dark matter, but new work by a team from the University of Michigan (UM), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of … Continue reading Another twist in the dark matter story

Slime mould sheds light on cosmic web

Researchers have been creative in trying to trace the elusive cosmic web, the large-scale backbone of the cosmos. They turned to slime mould (Physarum polycephalum), a single-cell organism found on Earth, to help astronomers build a map of the filaments in the local universe (within 500 million light-years from Earth) and find the gas within them. … Continue reading Slime mould sheds light on cosmic web