A massive new 3D map could shine new light on the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy - here's how.
Scientists have been baffled by dark energy for decades, but a recent study from scientists at the University of Portsmouth has generated a massive 3D map of nearly 1.2 million distant galaxies that could shine light on the mysterious force. According to a report from UPI, researchers believe the map will help them begin to finally measure dark energy throughout the universe.
According to Dr. Florian Beutler, a researcher from the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, the map is one of the largest and most comprehensive of its kind. “This extremely detailed three-dimensional map represents a colossal amount of work,” he said.
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth and partner institutions have been collecting measurements from galaxies that make up nearly one-quarter of the visible sky, which they believe will allow them to begin to make accurate measurements of dark energy and see how it drives the ongoing expansion of the universe.
Data used to generate the map was gathered by the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey Program, a part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey II. Researchers calculated the rate of expansion of the universe by measuring baryonic acoustic oscillations within distant galaxies’ structures. These oscillations refer to the way matter is distributed throughout the universe.
The oscillations can be measured via sound waves that rippled throughout the universe but left their mark in matter that formed roughly 400,000 years after the Big Bang. By measuring these marks, astronomers can calculate how much of an effect dark matter and dark energy had in creating them.
Researchers believe that dark matter began affecting the rate of expansion of the universe roughly 5 billion years ago, and the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey program aims to measure sound waves from 7 billion to 2 billion years ago.
According to Rita Tojeiro, an astronomer from the University of St. Andrews, “We see a dramatic connection between the sound wave imprints seen in the cosmic microwave background 400,000 years after the Big Bang to clustering of galaxies 7 to 12 billion years later. The ability to observe a single well-modeled physical effect from recombination until today is a great boon for cosmology.”
A press release from the University of Portsmouth describing the details of the study can be found here.