The largest-ever experiment in space has reported the collection of some 18 billion “cosmic ray” events that may help unravel the Universe’s mysteries.
Run from a centre at Cern, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) aims to spot dark matter and exotic antimatter.
At the heart of the seven-tonne, $2bn machine is a giant, specially designed magnet which bends the paths of extraordinarily high-energy charged particles called cosmic rays onto a series of detectors, giving hints of what the particles are.
A series of ever-larger particle accelerators built here on Earth aim to drive particles to ever-higher energies, smashing them into one another to simulate the same processes that create them elsewhere in the cosmos.
But no Earth-bound experiment can match nature’s power as a particle accelerator – and Earth’s atmosphere absorbs incoming cosmic rays – so the AMS will catch some of these high-energy particles “from the source”, as a kind of complement to the likes of the Large Hadron Collider.
Learn more: BBC – Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer claims huge cosmic ray haul
Continue reading International Space Station has a Large Hadron Collider – and it’s collected 18 billion cosmic rays
The year was 1998 and two highly competitive groups of astronomers were each rushing toward the same goal: they hoped to hunt down the effects of gravitational braking in the universe. Ever since astronomers had accepted the idea of the Big Bang, they had been out hunting for its subsequent cosmic deceleration.
While the Big Bang blows space apart (it literally stretches all points of space-time away from each other), the gravitational pull of matter should, over time, slow down that initial burst of cosmic expansion.
As data was gathered and analyzed, both the Harvard and Berkeley groups were stunned to find no evidence for deceleration. Instead, everything pointed in the opposite direction.
According to observations, the expansion of the universe was speeding up — it was accelerating. Cosmic acceleration became big news.
Which means there exists a Dark Energy pushing the universe outwards:
In 1999, the newly discovered cosmic acceleration made it clear that some form of anti-gravitational energy had to exist. As nothing was known about this energy…it was called Dark Energy
The discovery of cosmic acceleration and Dark Energy upended cosmology almost overnight.
keep reading at Cosmos and Culture
(thx Joseph Armstrong)