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3 Knowns and 3 Unknowns about Dark Matter

Image - A composite image of the "bullet cluster," a galaxy cluster formed by a collision of two clusters. The pink clumps show hot gas containing most of the normal matter, while the two blue clumps reveal where most of the mass in the clusters is actually contained. This provides evidence for dark matter since most of the mass was expected to be concentrated around the pink areas. (Credit: X-ray image by NASA/CXC/M.Markevitch et al.; optical image by NASA/STScI, Magellan/U.Arizona/D.Clowe et al.; lensing map image by NASA/STScI, ESO WFI, Magellan/U.Arizona/D.Clowe et al.)

While we can’t see dark matter, we are learning more about it. Here are three knowns and three unknowns about dark matter.

$40M to Establish New Observatory Probing Early Universe

Photo - The Simons Array will be located in Chile's High Atacama Desert, at an elevation of about 17,000 feet. The site currently hosts the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (bowl-shaped structure at upper right) and the Simons Array (the three telescopes at the bottom left, middle and right). The Simons Observatory will incorporate several new telescopes and set the stage for a next-generation experiment. (University of Pennsylvania)

A new astronomy facility, the Simons Observatory, is planned in Chile’s Atacama Desert to boost ongoing studies of the evolution of the universe, from its earliest moments to today. The observatory will probe the subtle properties of the universe’s first light, known as cosmic microwave background radiation.

Supernova Twins: Making Standard Candles More Standard Than Ever

Supernova Factory group (SN factory) - Greg Aldering, Kyle Boone, Hannah Fakhouri and Saul Perlmutter.

Type Ia supernovae are bright “standard candles” for measuring cosmic distances. Standard enough to discover dark energy, they’re far from identical. Researchers at the Berkeley Lab-based Nearby Supernova Factory have shown that supernova twins with closely matching spectra double the accuracy of distance measures.

DESI, an Ambitious Probe of Dark Energy, Achieves its Next Major Milestone

Paul Preuss DESI-Mayall-sky feature

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced approval of Critical Decision 2 (CD–2), authorizing the scientific scope, schedule, and funding profile of DESI, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, an exceptional apparatus designed to improve our understanding of the role of dark energy in the expansion history of the universe.

Supernova Hunting with Supercomputers

Simulation of the expanding debris from a supernova explosion (shown in red) running over and shredding a nearby star (shown in blue).
Image credit: Daniel Kasen, Berkeley Lab/ UC Berkeley

Berkeley researchers provide “roadmap” and tools for finding and studying Type Ia supernovae in their natural habitat

Confirmed: Stellar Behemoth Self-Destructs in a Type IIb Supernova

The Palomar 48 inch telescope. (Photo by: Iair Arcavi, Weizmann Instiute of Science)

Wolf-Rayet stars, more than 20 times as massive as the Sun and at least five times as hot, are relatively rare and often obscured. Scientists don’t know much about how they form, live and die.

BOSS Quasars Track the Expanding Universe – the Most Precise Measurement Yet

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) pioneered the use of quasars to chart the universe’s expansion and investigate the properties of dark energy through studies of large-scale structure. New techniques of analysis led by Berkeley Lab scientists, combined with other new BOSS quasar measures of the young universe’s structure, have produced the most precise measurement of expansion since galaxies formed.

Setting a Trap for Gravity Waves

In 1996 Uros Seljak was a postdoc at Harvard, contemplating ways to extract information from the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The distribution of anisotropies, slight temperature differences, in the CMB had much to say about the large-scale structure of the universe. If it were also possible to detect the polarization of the CMB itself, however,

BOSS Measures the Universe to One-Percent Accuracy

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), the largest component of the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey, has measured the clustering of nearly 1.3 million galaxies spectroscopically to determine the “standard ruler” of the universe’s large-scale structure to within one percent. This is the most precise such measurement ever made and is likely to establish the standard for years to come.

Searching for Cosmic Accelerators Via IceCube

Spencer-Klein-icl_moonlight-z

In our universe there are particle accelerators 40 million times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, but scientists don’t know what or where these cosmic accelerators are. New results reported from “IceCube,” the neutrino observatory buried at the South Pole, may show the way.