Based on new evidence and information, scientists have made the best argument for the existence of the mysterious substance known as dark energy yet. A team of astronomers at the University of Portsmouth and LMU University Munich has been taking part in a two-year study of the elusive material. The team was led by astronomers Tommaso Giannantonio, Robert Crittenden, and Professor Bob Nichol, and they are 99.996 percent sure that dark matter is a real thing and will change the way we think about gravity and Albert Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.
“Dark energy is one of the great scientific mysteries of our time, so it isn’t surprising that so many researchers question its existence,” explains Nichol. “But with our new work we’re more confident than ever that this exotic component of the Universe is real – even if we still have no idea what it consists of.”
Over 10 years ago, astronomers discovered what they thought was dark energy when they observed the brightness of a distant supernovae and studied it as evidence of the rapid acceleration and expansion of the Universe. They theorized that this acceleration and repulsive force was associated with dark energy. The researchers received the Nobel Prize for Physics for their findings in 2011, but the debate about the existence of dark energy has only become more heated in the years since.
The Cosmic Microwave Background is the radiation of the residual heat of the initial Big Bang. In 1967, astronomers Rainer Sachs and Arthur Wolfe concluded when light from this radiation would pass through the gravitational fields of lumps of matter, the light would become slightly bluer. This was known as the Integrated Sachs Wolfe effect, which was first detected 36 years later in 2003. This event called into question the actual existence of dark energy until Giannantonio, Crittenden, and Nichol conducted their own study comparing the Cosmic Microwave Background with the temperature of the radiation.
“This work also tells us about possible modifications to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity,” observes Giannantonio. “The next generation of cosmic microwave background and galaxy surveys should provide the definitive measurement, either confirming general relativity, including dark energy, or even more intriguingly, demanding a completely new understanding of how gravity works.”
The new paper by the astronomers’ team at the University of Portsmouth and LMU University Munich will be published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.