Survey Gets a Grip on Dark Energy
|2:38:01 AM, Friday, April 06, 2012|
“Astronomers have measured the precise distance to over a quarter of a million galaxies to gain new insights into a key period in cosmic history.
The 3D map of the sky allows scientists to probe the time six billion years ago when dark energy became the dominant influence on the Universe's expansion.
No-one knows the true nature of this repulsive force, but the exquisite data in the international BOSS survey will help test various theories.
The analysis appears in six papers.
These have all been posted on the arXiv preprint server.
"This is an incredibly exciting time to be working in cosmology, and we're all privileged to be part of the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS)," said Prof Will Percival from the University of Portsmouth - a UK member of the international research group.
"What we've done is measure the 3D positions for just over 250,000 galaxies, covering the largest volume of the Universe ever surveyed. That gives us an amazing map that we can then analyse to try to understand how and why the Universe's expansion is accelerating," he told BBC News.
Prof Percival was speaking here in Manchester at the UK National Astronomy Meeting (NAM).
The discovery that everything in the cosmos is moving apart at a faster and faster rate was one of the major breakthroughs of the 20th Century.
It went against all preconceptions. Up until the discovery, it was thought the Universe's expansion would most likely have been decelerating under the influence of gravity.
Scientists now find themselves grasping for new physics to try to explain what is going on…”