Most accurate measurement of universe's dark matter unveiled

04 Août, 2017, 21:05 | Author: Come Portier
  • Standard model of the universe withstands most precise test by Dark Energy Survey

Most notably, this result supports the theory that 26 per cent of the universe is in the form of mysterious dark matter and that space is filled with an also-unseen dark energy, which is causing the accelerating expansion of the universe and makes up 70 per cent. 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. These measurements of the amount and distribution of dark matter in the present-day cosmos were made with a precision that, for the first time, rivals that of measurements of the early universe captured by the European Space Agency's orbiting Planck observatory.

NCSA leads data management for the DES project with support from the National Science Foundation, receiving large volumes of observations over high-speed networks from the telescope in Chile and using the Blue Waters supercomputer and Illinois Campus Cluster Program to review, process and release the data products to the public and scientific community. The new DES result is close to predictions made from the Planck measurements of the distant past, allowing scientists to see the current structure of the Universe as clearly as they can see its infancy, and understand more about the ways the Universe has evolved over its 14 billion years.

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.

Another key to the creation of the mass distribution map was to accurately determine the distances to the observed galaxies - information that is usually derived from independent surveys that analyze the properties of light coming from those objects or from exploding stars.

Previously, scientists based cosmological models on a map of the very early universe-about 380,000 years after the Big Bang.

Dark matter and dark energy have always been predicted to exist though, as they help explain the cosmos as humans observe it - combined, they are thought to make up about 96 percent of the universe, and the later is postulated to be the driving force behind the expansion of the universe.

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. Dark energy is thought to be the driving force behind the expansion of the universe.

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Astrophysicists have a fairly accurate understanding of how the universe ages: That's the conclusion of new results from the DES, a large global science collaboration, including researchers from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, that put models of cosmic structure formation and evolution to the most precise test yet.

In addition to Gruen, who led the weak lensing working group, and Wechsler, whose group provided realistic simulations of the survey critical to testing several aspects of the cosmological analysis, a large number of KIPAC scientists, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and alumni have made crucial contributions to DES - from building the instrument to developing theory and simulations and analyzing the data. That is where weak gravitational lensing comes in.

The photo below is one of the stunning results of their efforts.

To look at this light, the DES collaboration used one of the most powerful cameras in existence; DECam.

The new results released on Thursday draw from data collected only during the survey's first year, which covers 1/30th of the sky.

The fifth year of observation will begin in August.

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