Physics and Astronomy

This area deals with the fundamental laws and building blocks of nature and how they interact, the properties and the behavior of matter, and research into space and time and their structures.

innovations-report provides in-depth reports and articles on subjects such as astrophysics, laser technologies, nuclear, quantum, particle and solid-state physics, nanotechnologies, planetary research and findings (Mars, Venus) and developments related to the Hubble Telescope.

ESA finds a black-hole flywheel in the Milky Way

Far away among the stars, in the Ara constellation of the southern sky, a small black hole is whirling space around it. If you tried to stay still in its vicinity, you couldn’t. You’d be dragged around at high speed as if you were riding on a giant flywheel.

In reality, gas falling into the black hole is whirled in that way. It radiates energy, in the form of X-rays, more intensely than it would do if space were still by tapping into the black hole’s internal energy stream.

ESA takes a new look at the Moon

Thirty years after Apollo 16’s lunar module, Orion, landed at the western edge of the Descartes Mountains on 21 April 1972, there is still much that we don’t know about the Moon. For instance, how was it created? And what role did it play in the formation and evolution of Earth?

We may be closer to answering those, and many other questions, thanks to ESA’s mission to the Moon, known as SMART-1. Due to be launched early in 2003, the main purpose of the SMART-1 mission is to flight-test the n

Looking further into the Universe

How can the Universe be studied? There is no way to affect a research object of infinite dimensions. It means that the research can only be carried out via observations, employing all methods available. To this end scientists have been inventing more and more powerful telescopes which would enable them to examine closely remote spots of the Universe and to hear a `voice` of the sky at all available bandwidths. The scientists are planning to dispatch to space a cryogen submillimetric telescope called

Chameleon particles from the Sun

The Sun emits electron-neutrinos, elementary particles of matter that have no electric charge and very little mass, created in vast numbers by the thermonuclear reactions that fuel our parent star. Since the early 1970s, several experiments have detected neutrinos arriving on Earth, but they have found only a fraction of the number expected from detailed theories of energy production in the Sun. This meant there was either something wrong with our theories of the Sun, or our understanding of neutrino

New evidence for organic compounds in deep space

The mysterious spectral bands in the infrared of interstellar gas clouds in deep space originate from organic compounds. Research by the Nijmegen physicist Hans Piest confirms this. He has provided new experimental evidence for this almost 30-year-old problem in astronomy.

Each molecule has specific wavelengths at which it can either absorb or emit light. This forms the fingerprint of a substance. With this fingerprint, astronomers can demonstrate the presence of a substance in a distant sta

Scientists blow their own trumpet

Brass instrument makers could soon be using the latest technology to refine the manufacturing of trumpets and cornets. An improved way of taking internal measurements of musical instruments, published today in the Institute of Physics journal, Measurement Science and Technology, has been developed by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, the Open University and Smith-Watkins Brass.

In a trumpet or cornet the musical qualities of the instrument, for example the tone, response and intonat

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