(ORDO NEWS) — A gigantic effort by a huge international team of scientists has just given us the most accurate map of all matter in the universe to date.
Combining data from two major studies, an international collaboration has uncovered where the universe and where it doesn’t store all of its garbage not just ordinary matter that makes up planets, stars, dust, black holes, galaxies, but also dark matter: a mysterious invisible mass that creates more gravity than ordinary matter can explain.
The resulting map, showing where matter has accumulated over the 13.8 billion years of the universe’s existence, will be a valuable reference for scientists seeking to understand how the universe has evolved. .
Indeed, the results already show that matter is not quite distributed as we thought, suggesting that something is missing from the current standard cosmological model.
According to current models, at the time of the Big Bang, all of the matte energy in the universe condensed into a singularity: a single point of infinite density and extremely high temperature that suddenly exploded and ejected quarks, which quickly combined to form a soup of protons, neutrons, and nuclei.
Hydrogen and helium atoms appeared several hundred thousand years later; the whole universe was created from them.
How these early atoms spread, cooled, stuck together, formed stars, rocks and dust is a detective work based on how the Universe around us looks today. And one of the main clues we’ve been using is where all the matter is right now, because scientists can work backwards to figure out how it got there.
But we can’t see it all. In fact, most of the matter in the universe – about 75 percent – is completely invisible to our current detection methods.
We only discovered it indirectly, because it creates stronger gravitational fields than it should be. based on the amount of normal matter. This shows up in things like galaxies spinning faster than they should and a little quirk of the universe we call gravitational lensing.
When something in the universe has enough mass like a cluster of thousands of galaxies the gravitational field around it becomes strong enough to affect the curvature of spacetime itself.
This means that any light that passes through this region of space travels along a curved path, which causes the light to become distorted and magnified. These lenses are also stronger than they should be if they were created from ordinary matter alone.
To map the matter in the universe, the researchers compared gravitational lens data collected by two different studies, Dark Energy.
A survey that collected data in the near ultraviolet, visible and near infrared wavelengths; and the South Pole Telescope, which collects data on the cosmic microwave background, faint traces of radiation left over from the Big Bang.
Sky, compiled from data from the Dark Energy Survey (left) and the South Pole Telescope (right). (Yuki Omori)
By cross-comparing these two sets of data from two different tools, researchers can be much more confident in their results.
“It works in much the same way as cross-validation, so it becomes a much more reliable measurement than if you just used one or the other,” says astrophysicist Chihwei Chang of the University of Chicago, who was the lead author of one of three papers describing work. p>
The lead authors of the other two papers are physicist Yuki Omori of the Institute of Cosmological Physics. Kavli and the University of Chicago, and telescope scientist Tim Abbott of NOIRLab’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory.
The resulting map, based on galaxy positions, galaxy lensing, and cosmic microwave background lensing, can then be extrapolated to infer the distribution of matter in the universe.
This map can then be compared to models and simulations of the evolution of the universe to see if the observed distribution of matter matches the theory.
The researchers did some comparisons and found that their map was mostly in line with current models. But not really. There were very small differences between observation and prediction; The distribution of matter, the researchers found, is less lumpy and more uniform than the models predict.
This suggests that our cosmological models may need to be adjusted.
There is nothing surprising. – there are several inconsistencies between cosmological observations and theory that seem to suggest that we are missing a trick or two somewhere; and the team’s findings are consistent with previous work, but the more accurate and complete our data are, the more likely we are to eliminate these inconsistencies.
There is still a lot of work to be done; the results are not yet determined. Adding more polls will help refine the map and confirm (or refute) the team’s findings.
And, of course, the map itself will help other scientists conduct their own research into the mysterious, dark history of the Universe.
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