Cosmology News

Eiichiro Komatsu receives 2022 Nishina Memorial Prize

The Nishina Memorial Foundation announced this week that Professor Eiichiro Komatsu, director at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, receives the most prestigious Japanese physics award. The Nishina Memorial Prize is presented annually, honoring outstanding Japanese scientists who have made substantial contributions to physics research. Komatsu receives the prestigious award for his “contributions to the standard cosmology based on the cosmic microwave background”. The award will be presented during a ceremony in Tokyo on 6 December 2022. more

Galaxies light up hydrogen halos around neighbouring galaxies

Galaxies are embedded in large reservoirs of gas - mostly hydrogen and helium. This hydrogen gas has been found to glow faintly in a specific ultraviolet wavelength, or color, called Lyman-alpha. Scientists at the MPA have discovered that these Lyman-alpha halos are larger than previously thought, spanning several 100,000 light years. The inferred size and shape of the halos suggest that the light in the outer parts of the halos comes from surrounding galaxies or the gas in their environments rather than from the central galaxy itself. more

Relieving the Hubble tension with Early Dark Energy

Different measurements of the Hubble constant, the current expansion rate of our universe, show a discrepancy known as the Hubble tension. This could hint towards new physics beyond the standard model of cosmology. Using a complementary statistical method, researchers at MPA now narrow down possible new physics in the early universe and constrain the fraction of a proposed new component: early dark energy. more

New analysis strengthens the hint of new physics in polarized radiation from the early Universe<br /> 

In 2020, a tantalizing hint of new physics violating “parity symmetry” was found in polarization data of the cosmic microwave background obtained with the Planck satellite at high frequencies. Based on the Planck data and a simplified assumption about the impact of the polarized dust emission in the Milky Way, the scientists reported a violation of the symmetry of the laws of physics under inversion of spatial coordinates with 99.2% confidence level. An international team led by MPA director Eiichiro Komatsu has now improved the analysis method. By considering the dust emission explicitly and using more data from not only Planck but also from WMAP the astrophysicists measured the parity-violating signal with 99.987% confidence level. If this should be confirmed in the future as a genuine cosmological signal, it would have profound implications for the fundamental physics behind dark matter, dark energy, and quantum gravity. more

Reflected quasar light powers giant cool gas nebulae

Already in the early Universe, supermassive black holes with masses a billion times larger than the Sun appear to inhabit the centres of massive galaxies. As interstellar gas is accelerated in their powerful gravitational field, it emits copious amounts of radiation, outshining the entire galaxy as “quasars”. Recent observations have revealed that the first quasars are often surrounded by bright, giant nebulae. These can span up to several 100,000 light years, about ten times larger than their host galaxy. New detailed computer simulations of galaxy evolution performed at MPA have shed new light on these puzzling observations, reproducing them in striking detail. According to these new theoretical models, the observed extended nebulae can be explained as quasar light that reflects off cool neutral hydrogen clouds surrounding the quasar host galaxy. Crucially, this mechanism only works if the energy provided by the quasar is able to produce gigantic galactic winds that blow out large masses of gas from its immediate vicinity. This finding suggests that quasars shape galaxy evolution from the earliest stages of galaxy formation. more

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