An international team of astronomers led by
Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) has made a bizarre discovery; a star that
refuses to stop shining.
Supernovae, the explosions of stars, have been observed in the thousands and in all cases they marked the death of a star.
But in a study published today in the journal Nature, the
team discovered a remarkable exception; a star that exploded multiple
times over a period of more than fifty years. Their observations, which
include data from Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii, are challenging
existing theories on these cosmic catastrophes.
New simulations could help in hunt for massive mergers of neutron stars, black holes
Berkeley Lab scientists develop detailed models that provide new views of cataclysmic events in space
Now that scientists can detect the wiggly distortions in space-time created by the merger of massive black holes, they are setting their sights on the dynamics and aftermath of other cosmic duos that unify in catastrophic collisions.
Working with an international team, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed new computer models to explore what happens when a black hole joins with a neutron star - the superdense remnant of an exploded star.
Using supercomputers to rip open neutron stars
The simulations, carried out in part at Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), are intended to help detectors home in on the gravitational-wave signals. Telescopes, too, can search for the brilliant bursts of gamma-rays and the glow of the radioactive matter that these exotic events can spew into surrounding space.
In separate papers published in a special edition of the scientific journal Classical and Quantum Gravity, Berkeley Lab and other researchers present the results of detailed simulations.
One of the studies models the first milliseconds (thousandths of a second) in the merger of a black hole and neutron star, and the other details separate simulations that model the formation of a disk of material formed within seconds of the merger, and of the evolution of matter that is ejected in the merger.
That ejected matter likely includes gold and platinum and a range of radioactive elements that are heavier than iron.
Any new information scientists can gather about how neutron stars rip apart in these mergers can help to unlock their secrets, as their inner structure and their likely role in seeding the universe with heavy elements are still shrouded in mystery.
“We are steadily adding more realistic physics to the simulations,” said - Foucart, who served as a lead author for one of the studies as a postdoctoral researcher in Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division.
“But we still don’t know what’s happening inside neutron stars. The complicated physics that we need to model make the simulations very computationally intensive.”
Finding signs of a black hole-neutron star merger
Foucart, who will soon be an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire, added, “We are trying to move more toward actually making models of the gravitational-wave signals produced by these mergers,” which create a rippling in space-time that researchers hope can be detected with improvements in the sensitivity of experiments including Advanced LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.
In February 2016, LIGO scientists confirmed the first detection of a gravitational wave, believed to be generated by the merger of two black holes, each with masses about 30 times larger than the sun.
The signals of a neutron star merging with black holes or another neutron star are expected to generate gravitational waves that are slightly weaker but similar to those of black hole-black hole mergers, Foucart said.
Radioactive ‘waste’ in space
Daniel Kasen, a scientist in the Nuclear Science Division at Berkeley Lab and associate professor of physics and astronomy at UC Berkeley who participated in the research, said that inside neutron stars “there may be exotic states of matter unlike anything realized anywhere else in the universe.”
In some computer simulations the neutron stars were swallowed whole by the black hole, while in others there was a fraction of matter coughed up into space. This ejected matter is estimated to range up to about one-tenth of the mass of the sun.
While much of the matter gets sucked into the larger black hole that forms from the merger, “the material that gets flung out eventually turns into a kind of radioactive 'waste,’” he said. “You can see the radioactive glow of that material for a period of days or weeks, from more than a hundred million light years away.” Scientists refer to this observable radioactive glow as a “kilonova.”
The simulations use different sets of calculations to help scientists visualize how matter escapes from these mergers. By modeling the speed, trajectory, amount and type of matter, and even the color of the light it gives off, astrophysicists can learn how to track down actual events.
The weird world of neutron stars
The size range of neutron stars is set by the ultimate limit on how densely matter can be compacted, and neutron stars are among the most superdense objects we know about in the universe.
Neutron stars have been observed to have masses up to at least two times that of our sun but measure only about 12 miles in diameter, on average, while our own sun has a diameter of about 865,000 miles. At large enough masses, perhaps about three times the mass of the sun, scientists expect that neutron stars must collapse to form black holes.
A cubic inch of matter from a neutron star is estimated to weigh up to 10 billion tons. As their name suggests, neutron stars are thought to be composed largely of the neutrally charged subatomic particles called neutrons, and some models expect them to contain long strands of matter - known as “nuclear pasta” - formed by atomic nuclei that bind together.
Neutron stars are also expected to be almost perfectly spherical, with a rigid and incredibly smooth crust and an ultrapowerful magnetic field. They can spin at a rate of about 43,000 revolutions per minute (RPMs), or about five times faster than a NASCAR race car engine’s RPMs.
The aftermath of neutron star mergers
The researchers’ simulations showed that the radioactive matter that first escapes the black hole mergers may be traveling at speeds of about 20,000 to 60,000 miles per second, or up to about one-third the speed of light, as it is swung away in a long “tidal tail.”
“This would be strange material that is loaded with neutrons,” Kasen said. “As that expanding material cools and decompresses, the particles may be able to combine to build up into the heaviest elements.” This latest research shows how scientists might find these bright bundles of heavy elements.
“If we can follow up LIGO detections with telescopes and catch a radioactive glow, we may finally witness the birthplace of the heaviest elements in the universe,” he said. “That would answer one of the longest-standing questions in astrophysics.”
Most of the matter in a black hole-neutron star merger is expected to be sucked up by the black hole within a millisecond of the merger, and other matter that is not flung away in the merger is likely to form an extremely dense, thin, donut-shaped halo of matter.
The thin, hot disk of matter that is bound by the black hole is expected to form within about 10 milliseconds of the merger, and to be concentrated within about 15 to 70 miles of it, the simulations showed. This first 10 milliseconds appears to be key in the long-term evolution of these disks.
Over timescales ranging from tens of milliseconds to several seconds, the hot disk spreads out and launches more matter into space. “A number of physical processes - from magnetic fields to particle interactions and nuclear reactions - combine in complex ways to drive the evolution of the disk,” said Rodrigo Fernández, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Alberta in Canada who led one of the studies.
Simulations carried out on NERSC’s Edison supercomputer were crucial in understanding how the disk ejects matter and in providing clues for how to observe this matter, said Fernández, a former UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher.
Eventually, it may be possible for astronomers scanning the night sky to find the “needle in a haystack” of radioactive kilonovae from neutron star mergers that had been missed in the LIGO data, Kasen said.
“With improved models, we are better able to tell the observers exactly which flashes of light are the signals they are looking for,” he said. Kasen is also working to build increasingly sophisticated models of neutron star mergers and supernovae through his involvement in the DOE Exascale Computing Project.
As the sensitivity of gravitational-wave detectors improves, Foucart said, it may be possible to detect a continuous signal produced by even a tiny bump on the surface of a neutron star, for example, or signals from theorized one-dimensional objects known as cosmic strings.
“This could also allow us to observe events that we have not even imagined,” he said.
For the first time ever, scientists have gathered direct evidence of a rare Wolf-Rayet star being linked to a specific type of stellar explosion known as a Type IIb supernova. Peter Nugent of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says they caught this star – a whopping 360 million light years away – just a few hours after it exploded.
New simulations could help in hunt for massive mergers of neutron stars, black holes
Now that scientists can detect the wiggly distortions in space-time created by the merger of massive black holes, they are setting their sights on the dynamics and aftermath of other cosmic duos that unify in catastrophic collisions.
Working with an international team, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed new computer models to explore what happens when a black hole joins with a neutron star – the superdense remnant of an exploded star.
One of the great mysteries in life is what makes a successful, loving relationship.
The Berkeley Psychophysiology lab (BPL) studies the emotional quality of a couple’s interactions — how they express emotion, how they respond to their partner’s emotions, and how they support each other in times of need.
Through their research, they hope to find the “secret sauce” that determines whether one marriage is happy and another one is miserable.
There have been long-term studies of marriages before, but most have been based on questionnaires. Researchers would mail a packet of questions to couples every year and get their views about what’s making their marriage work or not work.
What’s unusual about the research at BPL is that they bring marriages into the lab.
“Our thought was that to understand a marriage and the emotions of a marriage, we couldn’t just ask people what they felt, or just rely on questionnaires. We had to actually observe marital behavior and look at not only the visible behavior, but we had to also look under the skin and measure their physiology,” explained the lab’s director, Robert Levenson.
$2 Do-It-Yourself Solar Lamp Brings Better Light To Poor
by Michael Keller
When the sun goes down on almost 1.3 billion people around the world, the only respite from the darkness is fire. These are the people who have no access to electricity. If children want to study, or adults want to remain productive, or families want to sit and talk, most must do it by light of a flame.
But light sources like wood, candles, or hydrocarbons like kerosene oil, which was burnt at the rate of 38.7 million gallons a day in 2010, are far from the best solution. Combustion is dirty, releases toxic chemicals and can be expensive.
“A fifth of the world’s population earns on the order of $1 per day and lacks access to grid electricity,” wrote Evan Mills, a Lawrence Berkeley National Lab staff scientist, in the 2012 technical report Health Impacts of Fuel-Based Lighting. “They pay a far higher proportion of their income for illumination than those in wealthy countries, obtaining light with fuel-based sources, primarily kerosene lanterns. The same population experiences adverse health and safety risks from these same lighting fuels.”
Scientists narrow down the search for dark photons using decade-old particle collider data
Analysis of data from the BaBar experiment rules out theorized particle’s explanation for muon mystery
In its final years of operation, a particle collider in Northern California was refocused to search for signs of new particles that might help fill in some big blanks in our understanding of the universe.
A fresh analysis of this data, co-led by physicists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), limits some of the hiding places for one type of theorized particle - the dark photon, also known as the heavy photon - that was proposed to help explain the mystery of dark matter.
The latest result, published in the journal Physical Review Letters by the roughly 240-member BaBar Collaboration, adds to results from a collection of previous experiments seeking, but not yet finding, the theorized dark photons.
“Although it does not rule out the existence of dark photons, the BaBar results do limit where they can hide, and definitively rule out their explanation for another intriguing mystery associated with the property of the subatomic particle known as the muon,” said Michael Roney, BaBar spokesperson and University of Victoria professor.
Dark matter, which accounts for an estimated 85 percent of the total mass of the universe, has only been observed by its gravitational interactions with normal matter. For example, the rotation rate of galaxies is much faster than expected based on their visible matter, suggesting there is “missing” mass that has so far remained invisible to us.
So physicists have been working on theories and experiments to help explain what dark matter is made of - whether it is composed of undiscovered particles, for example, and whether there may be a hidden or “dark” force that governs the interactions of such particles among themselves and with visible matter. The dark photon, if it exists, has been put forward as a possible carrier of this dark force.
Using data collected from 2006 to 2008 at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, the analysis team scanned the recorded byproducts of particle collisions for signs of a single particle of light - a photon - devoid of associated particle processes.
The BaBar experiment, which ran from 1999 to 2008 at SLAC, collected data from collisions of electrons with positrons, their positively charged antiparticles. The collider driving BaBar, called PEP-II, was built through a collaboration that included SLAC, Berkeley Lab, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At its peak, the BaBar Collaboration involved over 630 physicists from 13 countries.
BaBar was originally designed to study the differences in the behavior between matter and antimatter involving a b-quark. Simultaneously with a competing experiment in Japan called Belle, BaBar confirmed the predictions of theorists and paved the way for the 2008 Nobel Prize.
Berkeley Lab physicist Pier Oddone proposed the idea for BaBar and Belle in 1987 while he was the Lab’s Physics division director.
The latest analysis used about 10 percent of BaBar’s data - recorded in its final two years of operation. Its data collection was refocused on finding particles not accounted for in physics’ Standard Model - a sort of rulebook for what particles and forces make up the known universe.
“BaBar performed an extensive campaign searching for dark sector particles, and this result will further constrain their existence,” said Bertrand Echenard, a research professor at Caltech who was instrumental in this effort.
Yury Kolomensky, a physicist in the Nuclear Science Division at Berkeley Lab and a faculty member in the Department of Physics at UC Berkeley, said, “The signature (of a dark photon) in the detector would be extremely simple: one high-energy photon, without any other activity.”
A number of the dark photon theories predict that the associated dark matter particles would be invisible to the detector. The single photon, radiated from a beam particle, signals that an electron-positron collision has occurred and that the invisible dark photon decayed to the dark matter particles, revealing itself in the absence of any other accompanying energy.
When physicists had proposed dark photons in 2009, it excited new interest in the physics community, and prompted a fresh look at BaBar’s data. Kolomensky supervised the data analysis, performed by UC Berkeley undergraduates Mark Derdzinski and Alexander Giuffrida.
“Dark photons could bridge this hidden divide between dark matter and our world, so it would be exciting if we had seen it,” Kolomensky said.
The dark photon has also been postulated to explain a discrepancy between the observation of a property of the muon spin and the value predicted for it in the Standard Model. Measuring this property with unprecedented precision is the goal of the Muon g-2 (pronounced gee-minus-two) Experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
Earlier measurements at Brookhaven National Laboratory had found that this property of muons - like a spinning top with a wobble that is ever-slightly off the norm - is off by about 0.0002 percent from what is expected. Dark photons were suggested as one possible particle candidate to explain this mystery, and a new round of experiments begun earlier this year should help to determine whether the anomaly is actually a discovery.
The latest BaBar result, Kolomensky said, largely “rules out these dark photon theories as an explanation for the g-2 anomaly, effectively closing this particular window, but it also means there is something else driving the g-2 anomaly if it’s a real effect.”
It’s a common and constant interplay between theory and experiments, with theory adjusting to new constraints set by experiments, and experiments seeking inspiration from new and adjusted theories to find the next proving grounds for testing out those theories.
Scientists have been actively mining BaBar’s data, Roney said, to take advantage of the well-understood experimental conditions and detector to test new theoretical ideas.
“Finding an explanation for dark matter is one of the most important challenges in physics today, and looking for dark photons was a natural way for BaBar to contribute,” Roney said, adding that many experiments in operation or planned around the world are seeking to address this problem.
An upgrade of an experiment in Japan that is similar to BaBar, called Belle II, turns on next year. “Eventually, Belle II will produce 100 times more statistics compared to BaBar,” Kolomensky said. “Experiments like this can probe new theories and more states, effectively opening new possibilities for additional tests and measurements.”
“Until Belle II has accumulated significant amounts of data, BaBar will continue for the next several years to yield new impactful results like this one,” Roney said.
TOP IMAGE….This is the BaBar detector at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Credit SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
LOWER IMAGE….This chart shows the search area (green) explored in an analysis of BaBar data where dark photon particles have not been found, compared with other experiments’ search areas. The red band shows the favored search area to show whether dark photons are causing the so-called “g-2 anomaly,” and the white areas are among the unexplored territories for dark photons. Credit Muon g-2 Collaboration
The gifs above show the newest in an expanding selection of living cells grown in devices to model human organs. This one comes from the University of California, Berkeley, where researchers have grown human heart cells derived from adult stem cells in a one-inch silicone housing. The system is being developed to test how different drugs and compounds would work on the actual organ.
The top gif shows the heart cells beating normally. The gif below it shows the cells after they have been exposed to isoproterenol, a drug used to treat several heart problems including bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate is too slow. The cells in the lower gif beat significantly faster 30 minutes after coming into contact with the drug.
“Ultimately, these chips could replace the use of animals to screen drugs for safety and efficacy,” said bioengineering professor Kevin Healy. This would be a significant improvement over the current model used in the pharmaceutical pipeline since the biology of animal test subjects differs significantly from humans. Such differences lead to inaccurate findings about new drugs’ efficacy and toxicity once used on people.
Sarah Richardson’s childhood dream was to meet an extraterrestrial, and now, she gets to work with one of the most alien forms of life — that just happens to live in a petri dish.
Self-dubbed the “Germ Wrangler”, she’s a molecular biologist training bacteria to make biofuels and medicines at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
And, as one of the few women of color in this STEM field, the number one feedback she gets is that she doesn’t look like a scientist.
“When I hear that from the children who look like me, that really breaks my heart,” says Richardson.
Richardson attributes her own success to good mentors, including a father who allowed her to disassemble his computer, and a scientists who accepted her as a lab intern while she was still a high school student.
Now, she’s also making sure that she’s doing her share in mentoring and galvanizing young women to aspire to a career in the sciences.
In Significant Advance for Artificial Photosynthesis, a Machine and Living Bacteria Work Together to Make Fuel
Scientists say they have merged living organisms with nanotechnology to mimic the photosynthesis plants use to make energy.
Blending chemistry, biology and materials science, the team from the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory created a living-synthetic hybrid system. The process brings together nanowires and bacteria (seen in the image above) to convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide in the air into valuable chemicals like liquid fuel, plastics and pharmaceuticals.
Like plants, the system uses solar power to make complex molecules from simple ones. In contrast to the carbohydrates and oxygen that are the product of natural photosynthesis, the new device converts CO2 into acetate, which is the building block for a number of industrially useful chemicals.
“We believe our system is a revolutionary leap forward in the field of artificial photosynthesis,” said Peidong Yang, a Berkeley Lab chemist who was one of the project leaders. “Our system has the potential to fundamentally change the chemical and oil industry in that we can produce chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way, rather than extracting them from deep below the ground.”
For the First Time, Direct Observations Show Increasing Greenhouse Effect
The rising concentration of carbon dioxide at the Earth’s surface is increasing the amount of heat the air can absorb, measurements taken by scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab have shown.
This phenomenon, they say, is being caused by rising CO2 levels from burning fossil fuels and fires, and the data fits with models that take into account the effect of human activity on the atmosphere.
“We see, for the first time in the field, the amplification of the greenhouse effect because there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb what the Earth emits in response to incoming solar radiation,” said Daniel Feldman, a Berkeley Lab project scientist who specializes in comparing climate models with actual instrument observations. He is the lead author of a paper published in the journal Nature on Feb. 25.
First ever snapshots of spinning nanodroplets reveal surprising features
Scientists have, for the first time, characterized so-called quantum vortices that swirl within tiny droplets of liquid helium. The research, led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the University of Southern California, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, confirms that helium nanodroplets are in fact the smallest possible superfluidic objects and opens new avenues to study quantum rotation.
“The observation of quantum vortices is one of the most clear and unique demonstrations of the quantum properties of these microscopic objects,” says Oliver Gessner, senior scientist in the Chemical Sciences Division at Berkeley Lab. Gessner and colleagues, Andrey Vilesov of the University of Southern California and Christoph Bostedt of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford, led the multi-facility and multi-university team that published the work this week in Science.
The finding could have implications for other liquid or gas systems that contain vortices, says USC’s Vilesov. “The quest for quantum vortices in superfluid droplets has stretched for decades,” he says. “But this is the first time they have been seen in superfluid droplets.”
Superfluid helium has long captured scientist’s imagination since its discovery in the 1930s. Unlike normal fluids, superfluids have no viscosity, a feature that leads to strange and sometimes unexpected properties such as crawling up the walls of containers or dripping through barriers that contained the liquid before it transitioned to a superfluid.
Helium superfluidity can be achieved when helium is cooled to near absolute zero (zero kelvin or about -460 degrees F). At this temperature, the atoms within the liquid no longer vibrate with heat energy and instead settle into a calm state in which all atoms act together in unison, as if they were a single particle.
For decades, researchers have known that when superfluid helium is rotated–in a little spinning bucket, say–the rotation produces quantum vortices, swirls that are regularly spaced throughout the liquid. But the question remained whether anyone could see this behavior in an isolated, nanoscale droplet. If the swirls were there, it would confirm that helium nanodroplets, which can range in size from tens of nanometers to microns, are indeed superfluid throughout and that the motion of the entire liquid drop is that of a single quantum object rather than a mixture of independent particles.
But measuring liquid flow in helium nanodroplets has proven to be a serious challenge. “The way these droplets are made is by passing helium through a tiny nozzle that is cryogenically cooled down to below 10 Kelvin,” says Gessner. “Then, the nanoscale droplets shoot through a vacuum chamber at almost 200 meters-per-second. They live once for a few milliseconds while traversing the experimental chamber and then they’re gone. How do you show that these objects, which are all different from one another, have quantum vortices inside?”
The researchers turned to a facility at SLAC called the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), a DOE Office of Science user facility that is the world’s first x-ray free-electron laser. This laser produces very short light pulses, lasting just a ten-trillionth of a second, which contain a huge number of high-energy photons. These intense x-ray pulses can effectively take snapshots of single, ultra-fast, ultra-small objects and phenomena.
“With the new x-ray free electron laser, we can now image phenomenon and look at processes far beyond what we could imagine just a decade ago,” says Bostedt of SLAC. “Looking at the droplets gave us a beautiful glimpse into the quantum world. It really opens the door to fascinating sciences.”
In the experiment, the researchers blasted a stream of helium nanodroplets across the x-ray laser beam inside a vacuum chamber; a detector caught the pattern that formed when the x-ray light diffracted off the drops.
The diffraction patterns immediately revealed that the shape of many droplets were not spheres, as was previously assumed. Instead, they were oblate. Just as the Earth’s rotation causes it to bulge at the equator, so too do rotating nanodroplets expand around the middle and flatten at the top and bottom.
But the vortices themselves are invisible to x-ray diffraction, so the researchers used a trick of adding xenon atoms to the droplets. The xenon atoms get pulled into the vortices and cluster together.
“It’s similar to pulling the plug in a bathtub and watching the kids’ toys gather in the vortex,” says Gessner. The xenon atoms diffract x-ray light much stronger than the surrounding helium, making the regular arrays of vortices inside the droplet visible. In this way, the researchers confirmed that vortices in nanodroplets behave as those found in larger amounts of rotating superfluid helium.
Armed with this new information, the researchers were able to determine the rotational speed of the nanodroplets. They were surprised to find that the nanodroplets spin up to 100,000 times faster than any other superfluid helium sample ever studied in a laboratory.
Moreover, while normal liquid drops will change shape as they spin faster and faster–to resemble a peanut or multi-lobed globule, for instance–the researchers saw no evidence of such shapeshifting in the helium nanodroplets. “Essentially, we’re exploring a new regime of quantum rotation with this matter,” Gessner says.
“It’s a new kind of matter in a sense because it is a self-contained isolated superfluid,” he adds. “It’s just all by itself, held together by its own surface tension. It’s pretty perfect to study these system
IMAGE…This is an illustration of analysis of superfluid helium nanodroplets. Droplets are emitted via a cooled nozzle (upper right) and probed with x-ray from the free-electron laser. The multicolored pattern (upper left) represents a diffraction pattern that reveals the shape of a droplet and the presence of quantum vortices such as those represented in the turquoise circle with swirls (bottom center).
Credit: Felix P. Sturm and Daniel S. Slaughter, Berkeley Lab.
An artist’s concept of the new measurement of the size of the Universe, based on data taken from the Baryonic Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey project.
The gray spheres show the pattern of the “baryon acoustic oscillations” from the early Universe. Galaxies today have a slight tendency to align on the spheres (the alignment is greatly exaggerated in this illustration). By comparing the size of the spheres (the white line) to the predicted value, astronomers can determine to one-percent accuracy how far away the galaxies are.
Combined with recent measures of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) and supernova measures of accelerating expansion, the BOSS results suggest that dark energy – the force thought to be driving universal expansion – is a cosmological constant whose strength does not vary in space or time. This finding doesn’t quite line up with Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, and researchers say that “understanding the physical cause of the accelerated expansion remains one of the most interesting problems in modern physics.”
The BOSS data “also provides one of the best-ever determinations of the curvature of space. The answer is, it’s not curved much. One of the reasons we care is that a flat universe has implications for whether the universe is infinite,” says David Schlegel, a physicist from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
He says this research tells us that while we can’t say with certainty that it will never come to an end, it’s pretty likely that the universe continues on in space forever.