Cosmology

Cosmology is big-picture astronomy — the universe on its grandest scales. From the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy to the vast cosmic web, modern cosmology probes what makes the cosmos tick.

Here you’ll find Sky & Telescope’s coverage of the latest discoveries in cosmology. Want to know about evidence for the Big Bang or hints of new physics? What about the expansion of the universe and the effects of dark matter? Interested in knowing what happened a long, long time ago in galaxies far, far away? What can we learn about galaxy formation at the very beginning if we gather enough photons? We bring you in-depth reports on the early universe, ancient galaxies, and the cosmic microwave background, the leftover radiation of the universe’s birth. As scientists peer farther back in time and space, pushing the limits of the knowable, we’ll be your guides on the quest to reach the cosmic dawn.

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New View of Lagoon Nebula

A new image of the Lagoon Nebula from the Paranal Observatory in Chile provides a stunning view the iconic object, which lies 5,000 light-years from Earth in Sagittarius.

NGC 6872, the largest spiral galaxy

Galaxies Grow By Snacking

Evidence from observations and computer simulations supports a picture of galaxy growth that isn't dominated by the rough-and-tumble crashes of big galaxies. Instead, most of the universe's stellar metropolises appear to feed themselves with nibbles instead of feasts.

Primordial galaxy

Triple Collision in Infant Galaxy

A complex of three bright, star-forming clumps called Himiko is merging in the early universe. With its light reaching us from when the universe was only 800 million years old, this primordial galaxy could yield insight into the elusive process of early galaxy formation.

distant galaxy

A Galaxy Near Cosmic Dawn

Astronomers have confirmed that light from a distant galaxy is reaching us from about 700 million years after the Big Bang. The galaxy's emission hints that star formation during that era might have proceeded at a much faster rate than previously thought.

Planck cosmic microwave background

Planck Spacecraft Shut Down

After four years of exquisite observations, the latest mission to study the universe's earliest light has been shuttered. But this end is a happy one and comes with a significant cosmological legacy.

radio burst over the Parkes telescope

Mystery Signals from Space

Four powerful radio bursts have left astronomers scratching their heads. The bursts appear to come from several billion light-years away and could provide a whole new look at the universe — but observers aren't sure what they are.

dark matter detector

Homing in on Dark Matter

Three potential detections from deep underground could be from dark matter particles. While still uncertain, the result suggests a particle mass in keeping with hints from several other experiments.

Planck cosmic microwave background

Planck: Best Map Yet of Cosmic Creation

Planck mission scientists have released the first half of their observations of the cosmic microwave background. The results are a stunning confirmation of today's standard model for how the universe formed and grew. But they also raise some head-scratchers.

NGC 6872, the largest spiral galaxy

NGC 6872: The Largest Spiral Galaxy

Our Milky Way ranks near the top in the pecking order of spiral galaxies, but it's no match for an enormous "island universe" in the constellation Pavo that is more than 500,000 light-years across.