Two media lists of top science stories of 2012 highlight cosmology discoveries that relied on contributions from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Both discoveries were based on microwave data taken with the Atacama Cosmology Telescope in Chile, which has a camera made of superconducting sensors based on a NIST design and superconducting amplifiers and electronics made at NIST. Both discoveries may help scientists understand dark matter and dark energy, mysterious phenomena believed to be common in the universe.
Physics World's top 10 breakthroughs of the year* include the first detection of large-scale motion of galaxy clusters based on the long-predicted kinetic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect—subtle distortions in the cosmic microwave background left over from the Big Bang that created the universe. Physics World noted: "The motions of distant galaxy clusters can tell us much about how the universe formed and also shed light on the mysterious dark matter and dark energy."
Discover magazine's 100 top stories of the year includes, at number 64, the discovery of El Gordo, the largest galaxy cluster ever found, located some 7 billion light-years from Earth. The formation of galaxy clusters depends on amounts of of dark matter and dark energy, so this discovery also may help scientists understand these phenomena. Space.com** cited an image of El Gordo (based on follow-up images taken with other telescopes) as #3 of the 100 best space photos of 2012.