Dark Matter, we know where you are!

Aug 4, 2017

New result rivals precision of cosmic microwave background measurements, supports view that dark matter and dark energy make up most of the cosmos.

An international team of scientists, including researchers from the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO), has just released the most detailed map of the distribution of dark matter in the universe ever made.  The precision of the cosmological inferences possible from this data now rivals that from the European Space Agency’s orbiting Planck observatory.

“This result is beyond exciting,” said Scott Dodelson of Fermilab, one of the lead scientists on this result. “For the first time, we’re able to see the current structure of the universe with the same clarity that we can see its infancy, and we can follow the threads from one to the other, confirming many predictions along the way.”

Most notably, this result supports the theory that 26 percent 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 percent.

Cosmologist Professor Tamara Davis from CAASTRO’s UQ node said the Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration results show a stunning map of the distribution of dark matter, which supports the view that dark matter and dark energy made up most of the cosmos.

“It is so exciting for us at UQ to be part of this enormous world wide effort.  We have been working with the team from around the world for the last five years, so it is thrilling to see that work come to fruition with these first major results.

“The scale of these projects is enormous, and it goes to show just what you can achieve when researchers from many countries come together to work on fundamental problems.”, said Davis.

These results and others from the first year of the Dark Energy Survey will be released today online at https://www.darkenergysurvey.org/des-year-1-cosmology-results-papers and announced during a talk by Daniel Gruen, NASA Einstein fellow at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, at 5 p.m. Central time. The talk is part of the APS Division of Particles and Fields meeting at Fermilab and will be live-streamed at: http://vms.fnal.gov/asset/livevideo.

Further details about this discovery can be found on the Dark Energy Survey’s press release here: http://news.fnal.gov/2017/08/dark-energy-survey-reveals-accurate-measurement-dark-matter-structure-universe/

Map of dark matter made from gravitational lensing measurements of 26 million galaxies in the Dark Energy Survey. The map covers about 1/30th of the entire sky and spans several billion light years in extent. Red regions have more dark matter than average, blue regions less dark matter. Image credit: Chihway Chang of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, and the DES collaboration.

The Dark Energy Survey is a collaboration of more than 400 scientists from 26 institutions in seven countries. Funding for the DES Projects has been provided by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, U.S. National Science Foundation, Ministry of Science and Education of Spain, Science and Technology Facilities Council of the United Kingdom, Higher Education Funding Council for England, ETH Zurich for Switzerland, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, Kavli Institute of Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago, Center for Cosmology and Astro-Particle Physics at Ohio State University, Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University, Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos, Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico and Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, and the collaborating institutions in the Dark Energy Survey, the list of which can be found at www.darkenergysurvey.org/collaboration.

Media contact:

  • Andre Salles, Fermilab Office of Communication, media@fnal.gov, +1-630-840-3351

Australian contacts:

  • Tamara Davis, Dark Energy Survey Science Committee member, University of Queensland, tamarad@physics.uq.edu.au, +61 432 526 989
  • Chris Lidman, Leader of Australian arm of Dark Energy Survey, Australian Astronomical Observatory, chris.lidman@aao.gov.au, +61 429 329 584