Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Cosmic Lens Used To Probe Dark Energy For First Time
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (SPX) Aug 20, 2010


This is the Hubble Space Telescope image of the inner region of Abell 1689, an immense cluster of galaxies located 2.2 billion light-years away. Image credit: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/Yale/CNRS. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Astronomers have devised a new method for measuring perhaps the greatest puzzle of our universe - dark energy. This mysterious force, discovered in 1998, is pushing our universe apart at ever-increasing speeds.

For the first time, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope were able to take advantage of a giant magnifying lens in space - a massive cluster of galaxies - to narrow in on the nature of dark energy. Their calculations, when combined with data from other methods, significantly increase the accuracy of dark energy measurements. This may eventually lead to an explanation of what the elusive phenomenon really is.

"We have to tackle the dark energy problem from all sides," said Eric Jullo, an astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It's important to have several methods, and now we've got a new, very powerful one." Jullo is lead author of a paper on the findings appearing in the Aug. 20 issue of the journal Science.

Scientists aren't clear about what dark energy is, but they do know that it makes up a large chunk of our universe - about 72 percent. Another chunk, about 24 percent, is thought to be dark matter, also mysterious in nature but easier to study than dark energy because of its gravitational influence on matter that we can see.

The rest of the universe, a mere four percent, is the stuff that makes up people, planets, stars and everything made up of atoms.

In their new study, the science team used images from Hubble to examine a massive cluster of galaxies, named Abell 1689, which acts as a magnifying, or gravitational, lens. The gravity of the cluster causes galaxies behind it to be imaged multiple times into distorted shapes, sort of like a fun house mirror reflection that warps your face.

Using these distorted images, the scientists were able to figure out how light from the more distant, background galaxies had been bent by the cluster - a characteristic that depends on the nature of dark energy.

Their method also depends on precise ground-based measurements of the distance and speed at which the background galaxies are traveling away from us. The team used these data to quantify the strength of the dark energy that is causing our universe to accelerate.

"What I like about our new method is that it's very visual," said Jullo. "You can literally see gravitation and dark energy bend the images of the background galaxies into arcs."

According to the scientists, their method required multiple, meticulous steps. They spent the last several years developing specialized mathematical models and precise maps of the matter - both dark and "normal" - constituting the Abell 1689 cluster.

"We can now apply our technique to other gravitational lenses," said co-author Priya Natarajan, a cosmologist at Yale University, New Haven, Conn. "We're exploiting a beautiful phenomenon in nature to learn more about the role that dark energy plays in our universe."

Other authors of the paper include Jean-Paul Kneib and Carlo Schimd of the Universite de Provence, France; Anson D'Aloisio of Yale University; Marceau Limousin of Universite de Provence and University of Copenhagen, Denmark; and Johan Richard of Durham University, United Kingdom.

.


Related Links
JPL
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





STELLAR CHEMISTRY
AMS Experiment Takes Off For Kennedy Space Center
Geneva, Switzerland (SPX) Aug 20, 2010
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), an experiment that will search for antimatter and dark matter in space, leaves CERN1 next Tuesday on the next leg of its journey to the International Space Station. The AMS detector2 is being transported from CERN to Geneva International Airport in preparation for its planned departure from Switzerland on 26 August, when it will be flown to the Kenned ... read more


STELLAR CHEMISTRY
LRO Reveals Incredible Shrinking Moon

A Hop, Skip And A Jump On The Moon - And Beyond

China's Lunar Twins

NASA Seeks Data From Innovative Lunar Demonstrations

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Martian 'mud' volcanoes eyed for life

Opportunity Keeps On Driving To Endeavour Crater

Trip to Mars could leave crew dangerously weak - study

Opportunity Drives Five Times This Week

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Senate 'space jobs' bill announced

CU Boulder Partners In FAA Commercial Space Transportation Center

Stanford Researchers Tapped To Help Make Rules For Commercial Space Travel

Working Like A Dog In Outer Space

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
China Finishes Construction Of First Unmanned Space Module

China Contributes To Space-Based Information Access A Lot

China Sends Research Satellite Into Space

China eyes Argentina for space antenna

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
ISS orbit corrected

ISS Reboosted And Cooling System Fully Operational

ISS Could Last Another Decade - Roscosmos

Astronauts make third space foray to fix ISS cooling pump

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Arianespace Announces Launch Contracts For Intelsat-20 And GSAT 10 Satellites

Arianespace Launches Two Satellites

New Rocket Launch Period In And Around Tanegashima

Kourou Spaceport Welcomes New Liquid Oxygen And Liquid Nitrogen Production Facility

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Planets In Unusually Intimate Dance Around Dying Star

Detector Technology Could Help NASA Find Earth-Like Exoplanets

NASA Finds Super-Hot Planet With Unique Comet-Like Tail

Recipes For Renegade Planets

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Japan's Panasonic to boost plasma panel output in China

"Fahrenheit 451" author burns at idea of digital books

Safer Plastics That Lock In Potentially Harmful Plasticizers

Colorado Space Grant Consortium And LockMart To Develop CubeSat




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement