Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Super-computer Could Throw Light On 'Mysterious' Dark Energy

Date:
January 11, 2008
Source:
Durham University
Summary:
Cosmologists have run a series of huge computer simulations of the Universe that could ultimately help solve the mystery of dark energy. Results of the simulations tell researchers how to measure dark energy -- a repulsive force that counteracts gravity.

The diagram at right shows the changes in the rate of expansion since the universe's birth 15 billion years ago. The more shallow the curve, the faster the rate of expansion. The curve changes noticeably about 7.5 billion years ago, when objects in the universe began flying apart at a faster rate. Astronomers theorize that the faster expansion rate is due to a mysterious, dark force, known as dark energy, that is pulling galaxies apart.
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA/STScI/Ann Feild

Cosmologists have run a series of huge computer simulations of the Universe that could ultimately help solve the mystery of dark energy.

Results of the simulations, carried out by Durham University's world-leading Institute for Computational Cosmology (ICC), tell researchers how to measure dark energy -- a repulsive force that counteracts gravity.

The findings  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 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."

Findings are published January 11 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The Durham research was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the European Commission.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Durham University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Durham University. "Super-computer Could Throw Light On 'Mysterious' Dark Energy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080110194502.htm>.
Durham University. (2008, January 11). Super-computer Could Throw Light On 'Mysterious' Dark Energy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080110194502.htm
Durham University. "Super-computer Could Throw Light On 'Mysterious' Dark Energy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080110194502.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) — After more than two years, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover reached Mount Sharp, its long-term destination. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — Elon Musk has been talking about his goal of colonizing Mars for years now, but how much of it does he actually have figured out, and is it possible? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — The three-man crew touched down in Kazakhstan Wednesday after more than five months of science experiments in orbit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins