A team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Chicago and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, has released the most accurate measurement of how matter is distributed in space. An analysis combining survey data from two large space telescopes, the Dark Energy Probe and the Antarctic Telescope, was published in three papers in Physical Review D on January 31st.
As the universe formed, matter was ejected and gradually formed the planets, stars, and galaxies we know today. Now, by carefully mapping matter, scientists can use it to understand the forces behind the evolution of the universe.
About 13 billion years ago, the Big Bang created all the matter in the universe in one very hot and intense moment and has since spread outward, cooled and accumulated. Scientists are very interested in following this trajectory, and by seeing where all of this is going, they can try to figure out what happened and what forces were at work.
For the study, the scientists combined data from two very different telescopic surveys. The other, the Antarctic Telescope, looks for subtle changes. from cosmic microwave radiation.
Combining the two different methods of observing the sky reduces the chance of errors in the results due to errors in either form of measurement. It acts as a cross check and is more reliable than alone.
Analysis of both projects focused on gravitational lensing. As light travels through space, it bends slightly as it passes through objects with large gravitational forces, such as galaxies. This method can capture both normal and dark matter.
By carefully analyzing these two sets of data, scientists can deduce where all the matter in the universe is. Analysis revealed that the matter was unevenly distributed rather than clustered in "clusters," i.e., discrete regions, as might be expected based on current best models of the universe. This is yet another proof that the current standard model of the universe is missing something.
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