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.

Rosetta – a comet ride to solve planetary mysteries

ESA’s Rosetta will be the first mission to orbit and land on a comet, one of the icy bodies that travel throughout the Solar System and develop a characteristic tail when they approach the Sun. Rosetta is scheduled to be launched on-board an Ariane-5 rocket in January 2003 from Kourou, French Guiana. A decision on the launch date will be taken by Tuesday 14 January (see Arianespace press release N° 03/02 of 7 January 2003 or at

The mission’s target is Comet Wi

Vast ring of stars found around Milky Way galaxy

A vast, but previously unknown structure has been discovered around our own Milky Way galaxy by an international team of astronomers. The announcement is being made at the American Astronomical Society’s meeting in Seattle, Washington, on behalf of Drs Annette Ferguson, Rodrigo Ibata, Mike Irwin, Geraint Lewis and Nial Tanvir. Their observations suggest that there is a giant ring of several hundred million stars surrounding the main disk of the Milky Way. Despite its size, the ring has not been

Milky Way monster stars in cosmic reality show

This Chandra X-ray Observatory image of the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s center, a.k.a. Sagittarius A* or Sgr A*, was made from the longest X-ray exposure of that region to date. In addition to Sgr A* more than two thousand other X-ray sources were detected in the region, making this one of the richest fields ever observed.

During the two-week observation period, Sgr A* flared up in X-ray intensity half a dozen or more times. The cause of these outbursts is not understood

Vibrations of the Cosmic Drumhead

Cosmologists hope to “hear the shape of space”, namely its topology, by analyzing in detail the temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB). An international team of cosmologists, including researchers from l’Observatoire de Paris, has recently developped a model for the vibrations of the universe. For the first time [1], they have simulated high resolution CMB maps containing the signatures of a wide class of topologies, for comparison with the forthcoming MAP satell

’Dark energy’ dominates the universe

A Dartmouth researcher is building a case for a “dark energy” – dominated universe. Dark energy, the mysterious energy with unusual anti-gravitational properties, has been the subject of great debate among cosmologists.

Brian Chaboyer, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth, with his collaborator Lawrence Krauss, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Case Western Reserve University, have reported their finding in the January 3, 2003, issue of Science. Combining their calc

Breakthrough brings laser light to new regions of the spectrum

Combining concepts from electromagnetic radiation research and fiber optics, researchers have created an extreme-ultraviolet, laser-like beam capable of producing tightly-focused light in a region of the electromagnetic spectrum not previously accessible to scientists. Between 10-100 times shorter than visible light waves, the extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) wavelengths will allow researchers to “see” tiny features and carve miniature patterns, with applications in such fields as microscopy, lithography an

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