The 10 Most Amazing Discoveries of Modern Astronomy

The 10 Most Amazing Discoveries of Modern Astronomy

Astronomy has come a long way in the past 100 years, with revelations from Einstein, Bohr, Hubble and other great astronomers, physicists, and scientists.  While certainly some of the greatest discoveries in astronomy of all time include the discovery of the other planets of the solar system, the true relation of the Earth to the Sun, and the mathematical calculations for planetary orbits by Kepler and universal gravitation by Newton, more shocking discoveries have been made in modern astronomy than in times past, and shows us just how cool our universe actually is.

Dark Energy
As we’ll discuss later in this article, it has been discovered using the Hubble constant and measurements of supernovae of distant stars that the universe is not contracting, nor is it static (as Einstein thought), but instead, the universe is expanding, and the expansion is speeding up. To account for this, a hypothetical form of energy known as Dark Energy has been proposed and is being investigated by leading astrophysicists and cosmologists. Whether it is a scalar property of space time itself, as proposed through a cosmological constant, or something dynamic, known as quintessence, is a matter of large debate, but current astrophysics places a full 74% of the energy in the universe as being dark energy.
Dark Matter
Dark matter (different from Dark Energy) is a type of matter that has been proposed to exist to explain gravitational effects within galaxies. When astronomers were able to measure the mass of galaxies and the orbital speed of stars within a galaxy, they noticed discrepancies between the expected results and the calculated results. Thus, a new type of matter was classified as dark matter, which is matter that is simply not detected using current measurement techniques involving electromagnetic radiation.
Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
Cosmic microwave background radiation, or CMBR, is a form of electromagnetic radiation that fills the universe and is left over from the Big Bang. Two Bell Telephone employees were working on a radiometer for satellite communication experiments, when they discovered 3.5 K in excess temperature that they could not account for. The CMBR is essentially the remaining radiation left from a previous stage in the universe’s history, currently theorized as the Big Bang.
Exoplanets
After discovering the various planets and non-planetary objects in our solar system, astronomers began looking at other stars in attempts to discover new planets. By analyzing the light spectra coming from distant stars, and also their brightness plotted over time, astronomers have been able to discover a large number of planets, starting in 1992 with the discovery of several planets orbiting a pulsar.
Black Holes
Black holes, which are largely known due to Stephen Hawking’s work, are a region of space where nothing, not even light, can escape, due to the massive gravitational pull from a single point in space with infinite density, known as a singularity. Beyond the event horizon, nothing can be seen and nothing can escape. Now, astrophysicists believe that black holes form as the result of larger stars collapsing and the electron and neutron degeneracy pressure cannot hold even atoms intact. Astrophysicists now believe that super-massive black holes exist at the center of most spiral galaxies and most galaxies in general.
General Relativity
General relativity is one of the theories presented by Albert Einstein, which proposes a unified description of gravity as a property of space and time, and allows for proper explanation of redshift of light and bending of light by massive objects. Largely verified through a variety of tests, one of the most famous proofs of general relativity occurred during a solar eclipse, during which the light from visible stars was mapped and extrapolated to locate the stars, which appeared in a different place than the stars actually were, due to the warping of light.
Redshifting and The Hubble Constant
Hubble’s Law allowed for the calculation of the speed at which galaxies are receding away from Earth, which demonstrates that galaxies are moving away from us, and thus provided the general basis for the Big Bang Theory. This then later contributed to the work by astronomers that demonstrated that galaxies are expanding away from us even faster than predicted, based on the redshifts of distant supernovae, as mentioned earlier in this article.
Gamma Ray Bursts
Gamma ray bursts are, quite literally, bursts of gamma rays coming from distant galaxies, that are suspected to come from extremely energetic explosions. GRBs are the most luminous electromagnetic events in the universe, and most astrophysicists believe that GRBs come from supernova explosions and occasionally the merger of binary neutron stars.
The Age of the Universe
Thanks to the use of redshifting measurements, the discovery of cosmic background radiation, and the age of the globular clusters of ancient stars in galaxies, astrophysicists have been able to calculate the age of the universe, which is currently estimated at 13.75 billion years.
The Big Bang and Inflationary Theory
As mentioned previously, the discovery of the CMBR, redshifting, and the faster than expected recession of galaxies led astronomers and astrophysicists to theorize the Big Bang, which is currently accepted as the model for the formation of the universe. The Big Bang was not an explosion within space and time, but instead, the creation of spacetime from nothing. While implications for our role in the universe, the possible existence of other universes, and what, if anything, occurred before, are the subject of speculation, the Big Bang model has survived a variety of tests and scrutiny to become widely accepted. However, with the discovery of the CMBR, it was discovered that the temperature of the universe is widely uniform, which would be impossible through traditional thermal interactions (the concept of the universe being flat, homogeneous and isotropic is known as the cosmological principle). Thus, Inflationary Theory was introduced, which suggests that the universe started with extremely rapid exponential expansion, driven by a negative pressure energy (somewhat reminiscent of Dark Energy), but before inflation, the universe was causally connected and thus had a balanced temperature.

  • Walter Melon

    Nice work Eric S.

  • Fasdfj

    most of these discoveries are base on theories aka guesses so these are all just presumed

  • http://twitter.com/jedipress Denis Paranhos

    Very nice work man!

  • d347

    i love how in the last picture there are great descriptions and depictions of the development of the galaxy.

    but when you look at the beginning, there’s just a bunch of swirls.

    nice

  • James Fernandes

    Like Fasdfj wrote: These are just theories and not facts. Hawkings may have popularised black holes, but is certainly not responsible for their discovery very much like Patrick Moore and Carl Sagan popularised other aspects of astronomy. Dark matter is not proven and appears to be a mathematical creation to try and fix broken theories.

    The Big Bang may not be the correct theory, either. Many astronomers now believe that red shifts may not necessarily be caused by the recession speed of objects away from us, the observers. Quasars may therefore be nearer than initially thought. Remember how the distance of galaxies was literally doubled during Edwin Hubble’s time after it was discovered that there were in fact 2 different types of cepheids? Well, there may be more factors involved which would certainly change our view of the universe, once again.

    Astrophysics is more conjecture than reality, these days. And once you put all your eggs in one basket (theory) you basically wind down that road where you just keep creating new bogus fill-ins to cover up observed anomalies. We need new blood these days to rattle the existing beliefs (like Copernicus and Newton). What we see today is more science fiction than science fact.

  • Anonymous

    Science is just like religion…they make up stuff when trying to explain something (How was the universe created? An invisible flying god or a big poofing bang?). Oh, and time is a man-made institution.

  • Wolfluver

    ya haha they truly are special… hahaha thatz funny…

  • DarkWolfLuver

    Aint that the truth! Ima start saying that! Thats exactly right!

  • Beth Mcmelon

    God created the heavans and the earth.

  • Alek_vega

    science shows the things crearly, religion just bases on faith and believes.
    you should think that.

  • Hbjk

    and that is why people cant stand Christians, cuz they are so close minded and wont take into consideration other peoples opinions, love thy brother, your probably a racist and hate gays as well.

  • Trude

    … and scientists explore for us, how god created the univers. I do believe in god and don’t understand the people who choose to belittle god’s creation by insisting on the six day method instead of opening their eyes to the wonders that are out there.

  • J to the I

    I find it funny how all Beth wrote was “God created the heavens and the earth” and you cut her down about her being a racist, gay hating, close minded and inconsiderate person. You sure did make large assumptions based off of such little data. You must be a scientist!!!!

  • Justin Scheffler

    Im not going to state my opinion on the above topic but I would like to mention how it seems that these religious people always tend to find their way to these more science based sites and then spout out their opinions…I dont float around on all the christian/religious sites and randomly drop my opinions and beliefs off at your door…please keep on topic and dont bring god into it!

  • secret

    There is no such thing as god to begin with
    the powerful being is just created through the creativity of the human mind.

  • http://twitter.com/tt_girl1 trini

    So in the beginning there was nothing. Then nothing crashed into nothing, exploded into more nothing, formed into something, which evolved into everything. This is how “clearly” Science shows things.

  • http://twitter.com/tt_girl1 trini

    I found my way onto this site because of a Science project that is worth 50% of my final grade. That’s the only reason I’m here.

  • Openblindeyes

    Science is fact based, not like religion which is based off a book. Anbody can write a story down on paper and pass it off as truth. You can’t argue with facts.

  • wagka

    don’t compare the science and religion just respect the decision of every one because we have our own belief and opinion … be yourself for the better

  • Mike147

    Too stupid for Science? Try religion.

  • im a human

    whats up with the weird pics

  • doodoohead

    seriously they’re ads As mentioned previously, the discovery of the CMBR, redshifting, and the faster than expected recession of galaxies led astronomers and astrophysicists to theorize the Big Bang, which is currently accepted as the model for the formation of the universe. The Big Bang was not an explosion within space and time, but instead, the creation of spacetime from nothing. While implications for our role in the universe, the possible existence of other universes, and what, if anything, occurred before, are the subject of speculation, the Big Bang model has survived a variety of tests and scrutiny to become widely accepted. However, with the discovery of the CMBR, it was discovered that the temperature of the universe is widely uniform, which would be impossible through traditional thermal interactions (the concept of the universe being flat, homogeneous and isotropic is known as the cosmological principle). Thus, Inflationary Theory was introduced, which suggests that the universe started with extremely rapid exponential expansion, driven by a negative pressure energy (somewhat reminiscent of Dark Energy), but before inflation, the universe was causally connected and thus had a balanced temperature.

  • fartfilteringunderwear.com

    my favorite one is the fart filtering underwear ad @:disqus

  • heypoop

    whats disqus