Astronomers reveal new map of dark matter, abundance in the universe

The Victor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope, left, at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile houses the camera used by the Dark Energy Survey. (Credit: Dark Energy Research)

For decades, cosmologists have been mapping the distribution of mass in the universe, visible matter and mysterious dark matter, in an effort to improve our understanding of these fundamental building blocks. Astronomer Eric Baxter from the University of Hawaii The Institute for Astronomy co-authored new research that traces the distribution of mass in the universe in three dimensions. An updated review was published on Physical Examination D.

Baxter and his colleagues at the University of Chicago, Chihway Chang and Yuuki Omori, collected data using two different methods of scanning the atmosphere. This new analysis shows that there is six times more dark matter in the universe than visible matter—something that was already known. However the team also found that this issue is not as difficult as previously expected compared to the current best model of the universe.

The researchers say that these findings may add to the growing body of evidence that there may be something missing from the current standard model of the universe.

Baxter said: “It seems that there is a little less change in the current universe than we would predict, if we take our standard model of the universe that is based on the early universe. “The high accuracy and robustness to the sources of bias in the new results makes a strong case that we may be beginning to uncover holes in our standard model of the universe.”

Using the latest major weather surveys

A telescope
The Pole Telescope (Credit: Jason Gallicchio)

The team used the Dark Energy Survey (EXPLANATION), an astronomical probe designed to detect dark energy properties. EXPLANATION uses visible light to map the distribution of galaxies.

Data were collected using the South Pole Telescope (SPT), which can map the subject further to the constellation studies as EXPLANATION. SPT works with microwaves and maps radiation from the Big Bang known as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB).

Combining these two different methods of observing the atmosphere not only increases the volume of the universe that can be analyzed, but also reduces the possibility that the results are thrown by an error or bias in one of the measurement methods.

“It acts like a check, so it becomes a stronger measure than when you use one,” said Chang, an astronomer at the University of Chicago.

Baxter, Chang and Omori, along with an international team of more than 150 people from other countries. EXPLANATION and SPTdata compiled from three years of observations by EXPLANATION and SPT SZ research, which started from 2008-2011. The data was used to find new and higher precision constraints on the distribution of matter throughout the vast history of the universe.

Next steps

Determining whether the facts of the common-universe problem are true or just changing will require a lot of data. EXPLANATION has three years of data waiting to be reviewed, and SPT is conducting a new survey of CMB with much improved hearing. A third telescope, the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, is also currently conducting a new high-resolution survey of CMB. By combining these new and improved data sets, researchers expect to find very strong constraints on the departure from the standard model of the universe in the near future.

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