Researchers shed light on dark energy and dark matter

August 29th, 2008  |  by  |  Published in Research News

galaxy chart

Papers from research teams involving the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Institute for Astronomy build the case for the existence of dark energy and dark matter.

One paper involves superclusters and supervoids—vast regions of space with unusually high or low concentrations of galaxies, respectively.

Comparing the regions with a map of cosmic microwave background radiation, an IfA team discovered that microwaves are stronger when passing through superclusters and weaken when passing through supervoids.

The resulting stretching effect on structures provides evidence that dark energy exists, says team leader Istvan Szapudi.

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In related work, IfA researcher Adam Bolton analyzed gravitational lenses, mirage-like phenomena in which a galaxy’s gravitational field distorts the image of a more distant galaxy into arcs or Einstein rings.

Knowing the precise distance to the galaxies allows astronomers to calculate their mass. What can’t be accounted for by visible stars is evidence of dark matter.

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Papers on the projects, which both used Sloan Digital Sky Survey data from a dedicated New Mexico telescope, were accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

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