Physics of the Cosmos
Exploring fundamental questions regarding the physical forces of the universe

About Physics of the Cosmos

The Physics of the Cosmos (PhysCOS) Program is one of three focused programs contained within NASA's Astrophysics Division (APD), together with Cosmic Origins (COR) and the Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP). PhysCOS lies at the intersection of physics and astronomy. Its purpose is to explore some of the most fundamental questions regarding the physical forces and laws of the universe: the validity of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and the nature of spacetime, the behavior of matter and energy in extreme environments, the cosmological parameters governing inflation and the evolution of the universe, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Located at the Goddard Space Flight Center, the PhysCOS Program Office supports, tracks, and studies a suite of science missions and enabling technologies that focus on specific aspects of these topics. PhysCOS activities include:

  • Facilitating the PhysCOS Program Analysis Group (PhysPAG), which comprises standing Science Interest Groups (SIGs) engaged in particular branches of high-energy astrophysics, and shorter-term Science Analysis Groups (SAGs) convened to address related science and technology topics.

  • Keeping its members informed of upcoming developments and funding opportunities, both within NASA and at other agencies engaged in science and technology activities.

  • Soliciting, and prioritizing community-identified technology gaps that must be closed to enable or enhance future strategic Astrophysics missions with benefits to PhysCOS science. This technology gap prioritization informs APD’s strategic technology development solicitation, selection, and funding.

  • Managing funded technology projects with benefits to PhysCOS science.

Featured Videos

Watch this video to learn more about XRISM (X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission), a collaboration between JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and NASA. »  Read More About XRISM
A Black Hole's Magnetic Reversal. A rare and enigmatic outburst from a galaxy 236 million light-years away may have been sparked by a magnetic reversal, a spontaneous flip of the magnetic field surrounding its central black hole. An international science team has linked these unusual observations to changes in the black hole’s environment that likely would be triggered by a magnetic switch. »  Read More
Black Hole Snack Attack Using NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, which launched in 2004, scientists have discovered a black hole in a distant galaxy repeatedly nibbling on a Sun-like star. The object heralds a new era of Swift science made possible by a novel method for analyzing data from the satellite’s X-ray Telescope (XRT). »  Read More

LISA Pathfinder’s Stunning Success LISA Pathfinder was launched on Dec. 3, 2015, and began orbiting a point called Earth-sun L1, roughly 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth in the sun's direction, in late January 2016. LISA stands for Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, a space-based gravitational wave observatory concept that has been studied in great detail by both NASA and ESA. NASA Goddard astrophysicist Ira Thorpe, a member of the team, discusses the mission and its spectacular results so far. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger. »  Read More
NASA | Fermi Proves Supernova Remnants Produce Cosmic Rays A study using observations from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope reveals the first clear-cut evidence that the expanding debris of exploded stars produces some of the fastest-moving matter in the universe. Two supernova remnants, known as IC 443 and W44, are expanding into cold, dense clouds of interstellar gas. Now, after analyzing four years of data, Fermi scientists see a gamma-ray feature from both remnants that, like a fingerprint, proves the culprits are protons. »  Read More
Visualization of Merging Black Holes and Gravitational Waves This visualization shows gravitational waves emitted by two black holes of nearly equal mass as they spiral together and merge. Orange ripples represent distortions of space-time caused by the rapidly orbiting masses. These distortions spread out and weaken, ultimately becoming gravitational waves (purple). Black spheres represent the black hole event horizons, surfaces beyond which nothing can escape. The merger timescale depends on the masses of the black holes. »  Read More
NASA / JAXA XRISM Mission Reveals Its First Look at X‑ray Cosmos

The Japan-led XRISM (X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission) observatory has released a first look at the unprecedented data it will collect when science operations begin later this year.

“XRISM will provide the international science community with a new glimpse of the hidden X-ray sky,” said Richard Kelley, the U.S. principal investigator for XRISM at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We’ll not only see X-ray images of these sources, but also study their compositions, motions, and physical states.” Read more » 

22 February 2024
Release of Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES)-2024
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Changes in D.2 Astrophysics Data Analysis for ROSES-2024
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All PhysCOS Session Slides from AAS Winter Meeting Now Available
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