How Black Holes Power Plasma Jets

Simons Foundation, January 2019

Black holes consume everything that falls within their reach, yet astronomers have spotted jets of particles fleeing from black holes at nearly the speed of light. New computer simulations have revealed what gives these particles such speed: cosmic robbery.

Enormous ‘Ghost’ Galaxy Spotted on Outskirts of Milky Way

Simons Foundation, November 2018

Astronomers have discovered a ghostlike galaxy that looms large on the fringes of the Milky Way. The newly discovered dwarf galaxy, dubbed Antlia 2, stretches roughly 19,000 light-years across. That makes it the vastest satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. Despite its enormous extent, though, Antlia 2 is incredibly faint and barren: It is by far the sparsest galaxy ever seen in the universe, its discoverers report in a paper posted November 13 at

Flatiron Institute Hosts National Science Foundation Workshop on the Plasma Physics of Neutron Star Mergers

Simons Foundation, October 2018

On August 17, 2017, scientists witnessed one of the most dramatic collisions in the universe. Two dense neutron stars had combined in a galaxy 130 million light-years away, generating ripples through space-time and emitting bursts of light. The observations of the event sparked scientific breakthroughs across many areas of cosmology, but many questions linger.

Gaia Data Releases Spark Open-Access Success

Simons Foundation, September 2018

The dome of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City burst into a confetti-like field of colorful puffs of light. Below, an audience of scientists and non-scientists alike oohed and aahed at the multicolored light show. “It looks like cotton candy falling down,” observed astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, a senior scientist and education manager at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. “It’s pretty, right? But it’s also science.”

Particles Surf Their Own Waves, Reveal How Microbes and Cells Move Through Human Body

Simons Foundation, September 2018

Surf’s up for microbes swimming beside red blood cells. New calculations and experiments model for the first time how spherical particles submerged in gooey liquid travel along a flexible rubber sheet; comparable conditions are common in the human body, such as blood cells flowing through a capillary or the journeys of self-propelled microbes. (Although blood isn’t particularly viscous, at microscopic scales its effective viscosity is high.) All these particles, it turns out, catch a wave.

AI Accurately Predicts Effects of Genetic Mutations in Biological Dark Matter

Simons Foundation, July 2018

A new machine learning framework, dubbed ExPecto, can predict the effects of genetic mutations in the so-called “dark matter” regions of the human genome. ExPecto pinpoints how specific mutations can disrupt the way genes turn on and off throughout your body. Such disruptions in gene expression can sometimes have fatal consequences.