Cosmic Times

Cosmic Times

2006
Age of the universe:
13.7 billion years
Size of the universe:
94 billion light years

Seeds of Modern Universe

Comparison of the COBE and WMAP results

Cosmic researchers now have the clearest view ever of the universe's early structure – clusters of galaxies, and clusters of clusters of galaxies. The better view comes in the form of super-sensitive temperature data of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) collected by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP). The CMB is the afterglow (left-over light) of the Big Bang.

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First Light Wins Nobel

John Mather George Smoot

John Mather and George Smoot have been awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for their 1992 discoveries about the cosmic microwave background – the remaining light from the beginning of the universe as seen today.

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Biggest Mystery: What is Dark Energy?

The further we look into the cosmos, the less sense it makes. That's the feeling of scientists now struggling with the problem of dark energy. This unknown force is the dominant stuff of the universe, and at this point it is a big mystery.

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Journey to Cosmos' Dark Heart

Artist conceptions of the Three possible JDEM missions

Scientists are working to shed some light on the darkest mystery in the universe: Dark energy.

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Faster Walk on the Dark Side

A type Ia supernova (lower left) occurred in NGC 4526.

There is new evidence that a mysterious anti-gravity energy is speeding up the expansion of the universe. This energy is called dark energy and makes up almost three-quarters of the universe. All that we know about this dark energy is that it works against gravity and causes galaxies to move apart faster than expected.

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Sorting out Dark Stuff

Astronomers have found that 4% of the universe is typical atoms, 23% is dark matter, and 73% is dark energy

There's good news and bad news about the universe. The bad news is that the matter which makes up everything that's visible – the Sun, the Earth, humans, everything we can directly detect – adds up to just 4 percent of the known universe. The good news is that we humans are beginning to get a handle on what makes up the rest of it.

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Image of the 2006 Cosmic Times poster

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A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC