A recently published comprehensive three-dimensional map of the universe by an international team of researchers offers hope that this map could reveal some clues about dark energy.

Key highlights

  • The researchers which include a team from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in (Mumbai)have published their initial findings from the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI). 
  • This unique tool, when attached to a telescope can simultaneously capture light from 5,000 galaxies. 
  • Using DESI atop the Mayall 4-Meter Telescope in Arizona, USA, scientists have measured light from six million galaxies, some dating back as far as 11 billion years. 
  • This effort has resulted in the most detailed universe map yet, providing precise distance information between galaxies.
  • Experts claimed that the key thing is we have been able to measure the distances between these galaxies with a very high degree of accuracy which is why we call it a three-dimensional map.
  • Scientists anticipate that this insight could lead to their first understanding of dark energy, which constitutes nearly 70% of the universe’s composition but remains largely mysterious.
  • One of the groundbreaking revelations from the DESI collaboration is the measurement indicating that the rate of expansion of the universe was increasing at a rate of 68.5 kilometers per second for every 3.26 million light-years of distance, a unit astronomers define as megaparsec

Dark Energy 

  • The hypothesis of dark energy comes largely from observations showing the universe expanding rapidly. 
  • Despite gravity’s pull, which tends to draw matter closer together, vast empty spaces between stars and galaxies are observed to be expanding at an increasing rate. 
  • Scientists are unable to account for this phenomenon through known forces, propose the existence of elusive “dark” energy driving this expansion.
  • It is assumed to be a constant force in the universe, both currently and throughout cosmic history.
  • The XENON1T experiment, renowned as the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiments was conducted in Italy, situated deep underground might have the potential to uncover traces of dark energy as well.

Dark energy Vs Dark matter

  • Less than 5% of the universe consists of visible matter including planets, galaxies, and ourselves. 
  • The majority around 27% is dark matter and 68% is dark energy.
  • While dark matter attracts and hold galaxies together, dark energy drives the universe’s expansion.
  • Dark matter has been theorized since the 1920s and Experiments like XENON1T continue the search for dark matter particles, which could indirectly provide clues about dark energy’s properties, having only been discovered in 1998.

Potential future projects and technologies:

  • Enhanced particle colliders and detectors: Upgraded colliders and more sensitive detectors like LZ and DARWIN could directly find dark matter particles.
  • Next-generation telescopes and surveys: Space telescopes like Euclid and ground-based projects like LSST will map the universe with greater detail, providing insights into dark energy’s behavior.
  • Quantum technologies and gravitational wave observatories: Advancements in these areas could lead to instruments that detect faint signals of dark matter or reveal new clues about dark energy.

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