A truly groundbreaking discovery about our universe and the dark matter that permeates it could change our understanding of space and matter.
An astonishing new discovery could change our understanding of the universe and of dark matter itself. Scientists conducting the ongoing Dark Energy Survey (DES) have charted the distribution of matter by measuring the way mass bends light, and have found that the universe is not as “lumpy” as previous surveys indicated.
Researchers found that the universe is actually quite smooth, with matter evenly distributed about 14 billion years ago when it first began. Mass has been clumping together ever since then into galaxies, clouds of gas, and other space structures. The new data by the DES team indicates that this clumping isn’t happening as quickly as we thought.
DES is a collaboration of 400 researchers that uses the gravitational lensing technique used by the Blanco telescope in Chile. The technique is based on Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, which posits that mass warps space so that much of the matter in the foreground of a galaxy can bend light to make the space behind it look compressed, which has implications for investigations into both dark matter and ordinary matter.
“While Planck looked at the structure of the very early universe, DES has measured structures that evolved much later,” said Daniel Gruen, a NASA Einstein postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute of Stanford University and SLAC. “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.”