Dark Matter Map May Reveal Universe's Early History

First Posted: Jul 02, 2015 01:08 PM EDT

A dark matter map may reveal a bit more about the universe's early history. Scientists have created a wide-area survey of the distribution of dark matter in the universe using the Hyper Suprime-Cam in order to learn a bit more about the depths of space.

Mapping dark matter over a wide region of the sky is key to understanding the properties of dark energy, which controls the expansion of the universe. Already, scientists have received results that demonstrate that with current research techniques, they're ready to explore how the distribution of dark matter in the universe has changed over time.

"Now we know we have both a technique and a tool for understanding dark energy," said Satoshi Miyazaki, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We are ready to use Hyper Suprime-Cam to create a 1,000 square degree dark matter map that will reveal the expansion history of the universe with precise detail."

The universe is expanding at an accelerated pace. This means to understand this acceleration, it's useful to look at the relationship between the rate expansion of the universe and the rate at which astronomical objects form. For example, if the universe is expanding rapidly, it is easier for structures like galaxies to form. In other words, there's a link between the history of structure formation in the universe, and the history of the universe's expansion.

The researchers have already analyzed test data from Hyper Suprime-Cam's commissioning to see how well it could map dark matter using a weak lensing technique. Data from a two-hour exposure covering 2.3 square degrees revealed crisp images of numerous galaxies. By measuring individual shapes, the researchers were able to create a map of dark matter hiding in the foreground.

The latest tools could be huge for further mapping dark matter.

The findings are published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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