Radio Astronomers Develop New Technique for Studying Dark Energy-Dept of Physics - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Radio Astronomers Develop New Technique for Studying Dark Energy

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) at Sunset. Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI and Harry Morton (NRAO).
The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) at Sunset. Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI and Harry Morton (NRAO).

Pioneering observations made by researchers from Academia Sinica in Taiwan, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Toronto with the National Science Foundation's giant Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have validated a new tool for mapping large cosmic structures. Observations made using the method, called intensity mapping, promise to provide valuable clues about the nature of the mysterious "dark energy" believed to constitute nearly three-fourths of the mass and energy of the universe. The findings will be published in the July 22 issue of Nature.

"Since the early part of the 20th century, astronomers have traced the expansion of the universe by observing galaxies. Our new technique allows us to skip the galaxy-detection step and gather radio emissions from a thousand galaxies at a time, as well as all the dimly-glowing material between them," said Jeffrey Peterson, of Carnegie Mellon's Bruce and Astrid McWilliams Center for Cosmology.