Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dark energy existed in infant universe

20.11.2006
Using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, researchers have discovered that dark energy, a mysterious repulsive force that makes the universe expand at an ever-faster rate, is not new but rather has been present in the universe for most of its 13-billion-year history.

A team led by Adam Riess, a professor in The Johns Hopkins University's Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy and a Space Telescope Institute researcher, found that dark energy was already accelerating the expansion of the universe at least as long as 9 billion years ago. This picture of dark energy would be consistent with Albert Einstein's prediction, nearly a century ago, that a repulsive form of gravity emanates from empty space.

The team will announce these findings in a media teleconference at NASA headquarters in Washington at 1 p.m. EST on Thursday, Nov. 6. (For logistics, see below.) The findings also will be published in the Feb. 10, 2007, issue of Astrophysical Journal.

"Although dark energy accounts for more than 70 percent of the energy of the universe, we know very little about it, so each clue is precious," said Riess, who in 1998 led one of the first studies to reveal the presence of dark energy. "Our latest clue is that the stuff we call dark energy was present as long as 9 billion years ago, when it was starting to make its presence felt."

Hubble's new evidence is important, because it will help astrophysicists start ruling out competing explanations that predict that the strength of dark energy changes over time, Riess said.

In addition, the researchers found that the exploding stars, or supernovae, used as markers to measure the expansion of space today look remarkably similar to those which exploded 9 billion years ago and are just now seen by Hubble. This is an important finding, say researchers, because it gives added credibility to the use of these supernovae as tools for tracking the cosmic expansion over most of the universe's lifetime.

To study the behavior of dark energy long ago, Hubble had to peer far across the universe and back into time to detect ancient supernovae, which can be used to trace the universe's expansion and determine its expansion rate at various times. The method, Riess said, is analogous to watching fireflies on a summer night. Because all fireflies glow with about the same brightness, you can judge how they are distributed throughout the backyard by their comparative apparent faintness or brightness, which depends on their distance from you.

Only Hubble can measure these supernovae because they are too distant, and therefore too faint, to be studied by the largest ground-based telescopes.

Albert Einstein first conceived of the notion of a repulsive force in space in his attempt to explain a balance the universe against the inward pull of its own gravity. If such an opposing force did not exist, he reasoned, gravity would ultimately cause the universe to implode.

But Einstein eventually rejected his own so-called "cosmological constant" idea and it remained a curious hypothesis until 1998, when Riess and the members of the High-Z Supernova Team and the Supernova Cosmology Project used ground-based telescopes and Hubble to first detect the acceleration of the expansion of space from observations of distant supernovae. Astrophysicists came to the realization that Einstein may have been right after all, that there really was a repulsive form of gravity in space. It soon after was dubbed "dark energy."

Over the past eight years, astrophysicists have been trying to uncover two of dark energy's most fundamental properties: its strength and its permanence. The new observations reveal that dark energy was present and obstructing the gravitational pull of the matter in the universe even before it began to win this cosmic "tug of war."

Hubble observations of the most distant supernovae known, reported in 2004 by Riess and colleagues, revealed that the early universe was dominated by matter whose gravity was slowing down the universe's expansion rate, like a ball rolling up a slight incline. The observations also confirmed that the expansion rate of the cosmos began speeding up about 5 billion to 6 billion years ago, like a roller coaster zooming down a track. That is when astronomers believe that dark energy's repulsive force overtook gravity's attractive grip.

The latest results are based on an analysis of the 24 most distant supernovae known, most found within the last two years.

By measuring the universe's relative size over time, astrophysicists have tracked the universe's growth spurts, much as a parent may witness the growth spurts of a child by tracking changes in height on a doorframe. Distant supernovae provide the doorframe markings read by Hubble.

"After we subtract the gravity from the known matter in the universe, we can see the dark energy pushing to get out," said the University of Western Kentucky's Lou Strolger, a supernova hunter on the Riess team.

Further observations are presently underway with Hubble by Riess and his team which should continue to offer new clues to the nature of dark energy.

Lisa DeNike | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht When helium behaves like a black hole
22.03.2017 | University of Vermont

nachricht Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars
22.03.2017 | International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars

22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>