Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The first 3-D map of the universe

06.03.2007
By analyzing the COSMOS field, the largest field of galaxies ever observed with the Hubble space telescope, an international team of scientists led by researchers from the California Institute of Technology (United States) and researchers from the associated laboratories of the CNRS and the CEA , made the first three-dimensional map of dark matter in the Universe using gravitational lensing effects. This historic first seems to confirm the standard theories on the formation of the large structures of the Universe. This study was presented in the January 7, 2007 issue of the journal "Nature."

For astronomers, mapping the distribution of the mass in the Universe from its light component is a considerable challenge. It is an exercise as complicated as determining the extent of a city solely from aerial photographs taken at night. Luminous matter (stars, galaxies, ionized gas) represents only about one sixth of the total matter of the Universe. The remainder is invisible and composed in particular of the mysterious component called dark matter.

Nonetheless, despite the complexity of the task, a three-dimensional map of all of the mass, luminous and dark matter was made for the first time in the COSMOS field. An international team of astronomers achieved this feat by using the gravitational lens effect to measure the large-scale distribution of matter. This new map brings more information comparable to what we would have by seeing a city in daylight rather than at night to be able to distinguish all of the fine details.

The map of dark matter was made by measuring the shapes of half a million distant galaxies. To reach us, their light had to cross the "fields" of dark matter and the beams of light were slightly deflected. This phenomenon is a direct consequence of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity which predicts that the presence of a large mass locally distorts Space-Time. In consequence, the trajectory of particles passing close to this concentration of mass is diverted. Photons, particles associated with electromagnetic radiation, are not an exception. The deformation observed in the shapes of the galaxies was used to reconstruct the distribution of the mass along the line of sight.

The COSMOS field covers a region of the sky nine times the size of the Moon (1.6 square degrees). The COSMOS survey done by Hubble includes 575 images from the ACS camera (Advanced Camera for Surveys), corresponding to close to 1,000 hours of observation. Following the observations made with Hubble, many additional observations with telescopes (like the Subaru, the VLT and the CFHT) and in space (XMM-Newton) on the ground were carried out. In particular, the multi-color images from the Subaru and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescopes, as well as the thousands of VLT spectra measured with the VIMOS instrument allowed for estimation of the distance of the various structures, thereby enabling this 3 dimensional map to be made. It shows that luminous matter concentrates along the densest regions of the dark matter and a network of filaments that intersect where clusters of galaxies are located. Furthermore, the map covers close to half of the age of the Universe and makes it possible to monitor the evolution of the distribution of dark matter, as it becomes more and more structured over time.

"Mapping the distribution of dark matter in space and time is fundamental for understanding how the galaxies developed and grouped themselves over time. The results obtained through the COSMOS survey seem to be in accordance with the standard theories of the formation of the large-scale structures of the Universe," says Jean Paul Kneib, CNRS researcher at the Marseilles Laboratory of Astrophysics.

The COSMOS survey thus brings us a three-dimensional map of the dark matter in the Universe and will allow us for the first time to monitor the relationship between the distribution of dark matter and the formation and evolution of galaxies. This type of mapping of the Universe by the weak gravitational lens effect is already orienting future space missions that are now already underway... We can thus imagine that in the decades to come the whole Universe could be mapped, in an even more detailed manner, perhaps making it possible to shed light on the existence and the nature of dark energy, the elusive force which is thought to be accelerating the expansion of the Universe.

Monica McCarthy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cnrs.fr
http://www.cea.fr

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New manifestation of magnetic monopoles discovered
08.12.2017 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht NASA's SuperTIGER balloon flies again to study heavy cosmic particles
07.12.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

Im Focus: A transistor of graphene nanoribbons

Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."

Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

Blockchain is becoming more important in the energy market

05.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making fuel out of thick air

08.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Rules for superconductivity mirrored in 'excitonic insulator'

08.12.2017 | Information Technology

Smartphone case offers blood glucose monitoring on the go

08.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>