Dark energy has been a mystery to scientists for years.
If you think about it for very long, you can imagine how frustrating it must be to learn that there is something out there that makes the universe go round, and that there is always more energy left to go around. This phenomenon is called dark energy, or the “God particle.” The title referred to an earlier particle that was discovered. Since then, scientists have been trying to figure out what dark energy actually is, why it’s there, and what it can do for us.
Dark energy has been baffling scientists for years.
Basically, it’s what makes things go boom, and what gets rid of the stuff before it. Dark energy is also the name given to this mysterious force which, instead of slowing down the expansion of the universe to the speed it was designed to go by, instead it causes the speed of acceleration to increase over time.
This is opposed to what one may expect from a world that started out in a Big Bang. Astronomers in recent decades have learned that the universe is accelerating. This discovery came as a big surprise because all previously known theories about the laws of physics said it should slow down or stop accelerating.
One of the reasons this occurs is dark energy, which is caused by something going boom as we speak.
One such thing is a merger between two relatively new classes of objects. Such events as a black hole merger and a supernovae can result in much higher energy levels than they would otherwise have if they had remained apart. In fact, some models of the cosmology of general relativity suggest that the expansion of the universe would have been impossible without such high energies.
Gravity also affects the existence of dark energy.
Another way that dark energy helps to explain the unusual behaviors of the cosmos is with respect to its effect on gravity. In general, gravity is thought to be governed by what is known as a “centripetal” force. The strength of this force is thought to be proportional to the cube of the distance from an object. But dark energy appears to take off and clusters, and leaves many unexplained bumps in the gravitational field. These bumps, or vacuum fields, are what lead to gaps in space-time, a phenomenon known as cosmic acceleration.
Theories abound concerning what could cause the cosmos to experience such cosmic acceleration.
High levels of dark energy could be one possibility, although scientists know very little about how it might work. High levels of dark energy could mean that something in the universe has already gone hyperbolic, traveling faster than the speed of light. Such a scenario would make more sense if there were a strong cosmological constant.
Another possibility that scientists believe explains the presence of dark energy is that, while normal matter cannot exist for more than a billion years, dark matter could potentially exist for that much longer. If this were so, then normal matter would have to have decayed long before, leaving behind a vast accumulation of dark matter that now makes up about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. Scientists have theorized that this dark matter could be made out of a leftover from the Big Bang that occurred about four billion years ago.
How do astronomers explore dark energy?
Dark matter can be tough to detect because it absorbs all the light that passes through, so scientists don’t see it with the naked eye. Two methods have been used to detect dark energy: the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico and the Very Large Telescope located in Hawaii.
The Arecibo telescope relies on supercomputer technology to search for a signal from dark energy, using an algorithm based on Einstein’s theory of relativity. Whereas, the Very Large Telescope relies solely on images taken by NASA’s orbiting telescopes to search for variations in the positions of stars that hint at the presence of dark energy.
These results were recently announced in a meeting of the European Astronomy Association, and resulted in a lot of discussion among astronomers. Although a few researchers are skeptical of the new theory, more are coming around to the idea that it actually has merit. After all, if there is a discrepancy between what we observe in the present and what science believed existed, then the new theory can explain why. In fact, one of the co-founders of the PHT, Pier Oddsson, is an astronomer, and has spent decades studying the properties of dark energy.