Science

Astronomers Unveil Most Accurate Map Of Dark Matter In The Universe

Astronomers Unveil Most Accurate Map Of Dark Matter In The Universe”

New research conducted as a part of the ongoing Dark Energy Survey (DES) has used the way mass distorts light to produce a bigger, more highly detailed map of the Universe's dark matter structure.

Today we can use the fact that mass changes space to "see" dark matter by measuring how light behind it distorts as it passes by, giving us a way to measure the amount and distribution of both kinds of matter across a portion of the Universe.

The results are part of the Dark Energy Survey, and show how dark matter is distributed across the galaxy - scientists hitherto used models to show where it fell, largely based the Standard Model of particle physics, an incomplete theory that was nonetheless the best explanation of how matter across the universe interacts.

And the map was found to match the models, lending support to the Standard Model. With its 3.2-gigapixel camera, which is under construction at SLAC, astrophysicists will be able to explore the depths of our universe like never before. This requires knowing what everything looked like around 14 billion years ago when the Universe still had its baby-smooth skin, a feat that requires a camera that can look back in time.

To rectify this, researchers with the Dark Energy Survey have embarked on a five-year survey looking at light from 26 million galaxies to see how they have changed over the last seven billion years (half the age of the universe). Red regions have more dark matter than average, blue regions less dark matter.

The new results come from data from the first year of observations of the Dark Energy Survey in 2013 and will be released online.

The scientists unveiled the dark matter map in a presentation at the American Physical Society Division of Particles and Fields meeting at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. "And, actually, we still don't know what it is", said the scientist. Dark matter acts like invisible glue, holding galaxies and galaxy clusters together gravitationally, while dark energy is thought to be responsible for the accelerated expansion of the universe.

"The Planck results have been the landmark constraints in cosmology".

"Once we have the full survey, 300 million galaxies and a thousand supernovae, we may be providing input for a new Einstein to tell us what does it all mean - why is the Universe made the way it is?"

NCSA, along with Fermilab and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory are the founding institutions for the Dark Energy Survey. "I helped bring code developers together to cross-check their results and to make sure that we get the most precise theory codes possible". "The growth of these structures from the early ages of the universe until today agrees with what our models predict, showing that we can describe cosmic evolution very well", Daniel Gruen explained. DES is now in its fourth year and will begin its fifth and final year of observation this August.

To gather the data that led to the incredible map, DES scientists mounted a 570-megapixel camera called DECam on the 4-meter Victor M. Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

The results from the DES model now allow scientists to make more precise predictions about the expansion of the universe because of two very important reasons: first is that DES was able to gather data consistent with the ESA's cosmic microwave background (CMB) model, which is based on the early structure of the universe. "In particular we want to see if there are hints in the data that suggest modifying the laws of gravity on the largest scales in the universe".



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