Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Supercomputer could throw light on dark energy

11.01.2008
Cosmologists at Durham University’s world-leading Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC) have run a series of huge computer simulations of the Universe that could help solve one of astronomy’s greatest mysteries. The results tell researchers how to measure dark energy – a force that counteracts gravity and could decide the ultimate fate of the cosmos.

The findings, to be published on Friday, 11 January in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, will also provide vital input into the design of a proposed satellite mission called SPACE – the SPectroscopic All-sky Cosmic Explorer - that could unveil the nature of dark energy.

The discovery of dark energy in 1998 was completely unexpected and understanding its nature is one of the biggest problems in physics. Scientists believe that dark energy, which makes up 70 per cent of the Universe, is driving its accelerating expansion. If this expansion continues to accelerate experts say it could eventually lead to a Big Freeze as the Universe is pulled apart and becomes a vast cold expanse of dying stars and black holes.

The simulations, which took 11 days to run on Durham’s unique Cosmology Machine (COSMA) computer, looked at tiny ripples in the distribution of matter in the Universe made by sound waves a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang. The ripples are delicate and some have been destroyed over the subsequent 13 billion years of the Universe, but the simulations showed they survived in certain conditions.

By changing the nature of dark energy in the simulations, the researchers discovered that the ripples appeared to change in length and could act as a “standard ruler” in the measurement of dark energy.

ICC Director Professor Carlos Frenk said: “The ripples are a ‘gold standard’. By comparing the size of the measured ripples to the gold standard we can work out how the Universe has expanded and from this figure out the properties of the dark energy.

“Astronomers are stuck with the one universe we live in. However, the simulations allow us to experiment with what might have happened if there had been more or less dark energy in the universe.”

In the next five to 10 years a number of experiments are planned to explore dark energy. The Durham simulation has demonstrated the feasibility of the SPACE satellite mission proposed to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Cosmic Vision programme.

The project has been put forward by an international consortium of researchers including the Durham team.

SPACE, which is led by Bologna University, in Italy, is through to the next round of assessment by the ESA and if successful is planned to launch in 2017.

Co-principal investigator Professor Andrea Cimatti, of Bologna University, said: “Thanks to the ICC simulations it is possible to predict what SPACE would observe and to plan how to develop the mission parameters in order to obtain a three-dimensional map of the Universe and to compare it with the predictions of the simulations.

“Thanks to this comparison it will be possible to unveil the nature of dark energy and to understand how the structures in the Universe built up and evolved with cosmic time.”

The Durham research was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the European Commission.

Robert Massey | alfa
Further information:
http://www.icc.dur.ac.uk/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientific achievements during the operation of Lomonosov satellite
18.12.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

nachricht Quantum memory with record-breaking capacity based on laser-cooled atoms
18.12.2017 | Faculty of Physics University of Warsaw

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The body's street sweepers

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Fast flowing heat in layered material heterostructures

18.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>