SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY
At Home in the Universe
from Science News
When Lewis and Clark started exploring the West, they didn't know much about what lay beyond St. Louis. Neither, at first, did astronomers know much about cosmic realms beyond Uranus.
But just as 19th century explorers filled in huge blanks on the American map, so did 20th century skywatchers flesh out a much greater map--of frontiers far beyond the solar system, out across the entire Milky Way. Now, in the last few years, cosmic cartography has again redrawn modern science's picture of the galaxy, from the inside out.
Surprising new findings from this endeavor begin at the Milky Way's heart, where astronomers recently spotted a tendril of gas streaming toward the galaxy's central black hole. Next year, scientists will have a ringside seat for the first time as the matter swings perilously close to its doom.
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Using the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ATC), a 6.5-meter microwave collector in Chile, cosmologists are piecing together the early history of the known universe. In an exclusive American Scientist interview, Arthur Kosowsky—a member of the ATC team and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh—discusses how he is using ATC to reach back in time billions of years to search for gravitational waves that could verify inflation and reveal unprecedented details about how the cosmos was born.
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