The universe is hiding something. In fact, it is hiding a lot. Everything we experience on Earth, the stars and galaxies we see in the cosmos—all the “normal” matter and energy that we understand—make up only 5% of the known universe. The other 95% is made up of two mysterious components: “dark matter” and “dark energy.” We can’t see them, but we know they’re there. And what’s more—these two shadowy ingredients are locked in an epic battle to control the very fate of the universe. Now, scientists are trying to shed light on the so-called “dark sector” as the latest generation of detectors rev up, and powerful telescopes peer deeper into space than ever before to observe how it behaves. Will the discoveries help reveal how galaxies formed? In the series finale, NOVA Wonders journeys to the stars and back to investigate what we know—and don’t know. Find out how scientists are discovering new secrets about the history of the universe, and why they’re predicting a shocking future.
3,000- years-old, the Nebra Sky Disk is the oldest sky map in the world, predating Babylonian and Egyptian sky maps. Found in Germany, the Nebra Sky Disk is an archaeological mystery. Who were the people who designed this beautiful and functional ancient artifact with exact proportions?
On a cosmic time scale, human history is as brief as the blink of an eye. By compressing all 13.8 billion years of time into a 10 minute scale, this video shows just how young we truly are, and just how ancient and vast our universe is. Starting with the big bang and culminating in the appearance of homo sapiens, this experience follows the unfolding of time at 22 million years per second, adhering closely to current scientific understanding.
2018 • Astronomy
The only reason life on Earth is possible is because of our stable orbit around the Sun. Elsewhere in the Universe, orbits are chaotic, violent and destructive. On the largest scale, orbits are a creative force and construct the fabric of the Universe.
We’ve covered a lot of incredible stuff, but this week we’re talking about the weirdest objects in space: BLACK HOLES. Stellar mass black holes form when a very massive star dies, and its core collapses. The core has to be more than about 2.8 times the Sun’s mass to form a black hole. Black holes come in different sizes, but for all of them, the escape velocity is greater than the speed of light, so nothing can escape, not matter or light. They don’t wander the Universe gobbling everything down around them; their gravity is only really intense very close to them. Tides near a stellar mass black hole will spaghettify you, and time slows down when you get near a black hole — not that this helps much if you’re falling in.