A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

On Monday morning, scientists around the world felt a wave of ecstasy as they learned of a breathtaking discovery: A particular pattern of light coming from the early universe, imprinted on the cosmic expansion during its first moments, had been seen by the BICEP2 collaboration. This polarization of cosmic background light displays a faint but distinctive pattern of swirls that can be created only by an extraordinarily exotic process—a stretching of space-time called gravitational waves—caused by subatomic, quantum fluctuations in the early universe.

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Photo of BICEP2

Physicists find evidence of cosmic inflation

The BICEP2 experiment has detected signs of gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background radiation, with big implications for the theory of cosmic inflation.

Image of gamma-ray-only pulsar

Scientists pinpoint ‘very peculiar’ pulsar

Scientists studying five years of data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have found the first gamma-ray variable pulsar. But is it really what it seems?

Photo of Breaking: P5 at SLAC

US particle physicists look to space

A panel met at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to look for promising routes to the study of dark matter, dark energy and other phenomena.

Illustration of Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations

Baryonic acoustic oscillations

Scientists have found a way to study sound waves from the early universe to learn more about its history and contents. 

Illustration of world's oldest astronomers, rings in wood slice

The world’s oldest astronomers

Scientists in Japan use ancient trees to look back on the history of our local cosmos, and discover a mystery.

Photo of mock data

Mock data, real science

In scientific circles, “mock” is not always a four-letter word. Through mock-data competitions, astrophysicists check their work.

Photo of breaking: cosmic explosion calls theory into question

Cosmic explosion calls theory into question

Observations of a rare cosmic explosion challenge scientists’ theoretical understanding of how gamma-ray bursts work.

Photo of KIPAC's dark matter visualization screened in front of an audience in the Hayden Planetarium

New planetarium show lights up the dark

Particle astrophysicists are helping illuminate the dark side of the universe for a new show at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Photo the cosmos seeded with heavy elements during youth

Cosmos seeded with heavy elements during youth

Traces of iron distributed smoothly throughout a massive galaxy cluster tell a 10-billion-year-old story of cosmic evolution.