The scientists behind the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) have created a groundbreaking new image that reveals the most detailed map of dark matter distributed over a quarter of the entire skyextending deep into the cosmos.

This map shows regions whose mass distribution extends essentially as far as can be seen in time; uses the cosmic background as a backdrop for the portrait of dark matter.

the new image, made with light 14 billion years old after the Big Bang, confirms the theory of Albert Einstein how massive structures grow and have bent light during the 14 billion year lifetime of the universe.

“We have mapped the invisible dark matter in the sky at the greatest distances, and we clearly see features on this invisible world that are hundreds of millions of light-years across.”Blake Sherwin, a cosmologist at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement. Communiqué from Princeton University. “It appears just as our theories predict”.

The new map of dark matter.  The orange regions show where there is more mass;  purple where there is less or none.  Source: ACT.
The new map of dark matter. The orange regions show where there is more mass; purple where there is less or none. Source: ACT.

What makes this discovery important?

Despite having created 85% of the universe and influence its evolution, dark matter has been difficult to detect because it does not interact with light or other forms of electromagnetic radiation.

To track it, more than 160 collaborators built and collected data from the Telescope of Atacama Cosmology of the National Science Foundation in the high Chilean Andes, observing the light that emanated after the formation of the universe, after the Big Bang, when the universe was only 380,000 years old.

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The measurements made up to then produced results that suggested that dark matter was less lumpy than Einstein’s theories had predictedraising concerns that the model might be broken.

However, the team’s latest results were able to accurately assess that the large bulges seen on this imaged map are the exact size, validating the gravity theory of Albert Einstein.

“It’s a bit like silhouetting, but instead of just having black in the silhouette, you have texture and clumps of dark matter, as if light were coming through a curtain of fabric that had lots of knots and bulges”Suzanne Staggs, director of the Atacama Cosmology Telescope and a physicist at Princeton, said in the statement.

Thanks to modern instruments and techniques, Scientists are getting closer to unlocking these secrets of the universe. For example, a forthcoming telescope at the Simons Observatory in the Atacama will start operating in 2024 and will map the sky nearly 10 times faster than the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, according to the Princeton release.

By Lay

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