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Student Project Explores Texture of the Universe

Student Science ProjectThe universe continues to dominate human curiosity, and allows plenty of space for the imagination. Loyola Marymount University’s physics department students and faculty explore these curiosities within a lab environment.

One project started by Jonas Mureika, assistant professor of physics, explores cosmology, or the study of the scientific structure and origin of the universe, with a new approach to understanding the large-scale structure of the universe. Murieka recruited physics majors Maurice McKay ’08 and Kyle McCormick ’09 to participate in the project.

Using lacunarity analysis, or the measurement of the gaps and the density of the gaps between the galaxies, the group examined the distribution characteristics of theoretical galaxy clustering models. The project attempts to answer the following questions: Why do galaxies cluster? How will this affect the future? Will the universe continue expanding indefinitely or will it collapse?

“Ultimately, the project will give us new insight into the nature of how galaxies cluster, and also possible information about the curvature structure of the universe itself,” Mureika said.

The research results was presented in November at the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research at Cal Poly Pomona.

Image caption (above right): Theoretical models of galaxy clustering such as these can replicate the actual observed clustering of galaxies observed in the Universe.  Understanding how they are structured can yield great insight into both the seconds following the Big Bang, as well as the eventual fate of the Universe.