Dark energy telescopes

Dark+energy+telescopes

Elizabeth Thorell, Content Editor

By far the biggest mystery of the human race is that of the universe’s properties, many of which remain enigmas to this day despite countless scientific advancements. Many aspects of how the universe works are still unknown, but great progress has been made. In 1998, scientists made a discovery that would change everything that we thought we knew. They discovered that the universe was still expanding at an ever-accelerating pace, contrary to what scientists had assumed for a long time; scientists thought that, eventually, after the Big Bang, where the universe initially started from a single point before expanding to what we know today, expansion would slow down and maybe even stop. This discovery led to the recognition of what we now know as Dark Energy. 

Dark Energy is still far from being completely understood, but, generally speaking, it is a force that drives the accelerated expansion of the universe which counteracts gravity. This energy makes up most of the known universe while the atoms that compose the planets, stars, and galaxies only make up about 5% of the universe. 

One theory that resulted from the discovery of Dark Energy is the theory of the Multiverse, which originated due to a disparity in terms of vacuum pressure. Theoretically, the vacuum pressure in the universe should be 1.0×10^120 larger than what is actually recorded. The unexpectedly low vacuum pressure is rather fortunate given that life as we know it can only survive in the low vacuum pressure environment that we currently have. The disparity of the vacuum pressure’s magnitude caused scientists to theorize about the Multiverse. The theory that other universes exist and have larger vacuum pressures. The alternate explanation for this disparity is that the current theory of gravity is incomplete. 

Trying to figure out exactly how Dark Energy works is a high priority for many space programs. Currently there are various projects around the globe working to unravel some of the mysteries of the universe. One of these projects is called the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI). It is located on the 4m Mayall telescope at the Kitt Peak observatory in Arizona. It has 5,000 optical fibers which function as mini-telescopes which are each able to scan a galaxy in twenty minutes. The high speed will allow scientists to survey more galaxies in a single year than all other telescopes combined. The current targets for the telescope include thirty-five million galaxies. This telescope is capable of looking ten billion light years away allowing it to see ten billion years into the past. This would allow for unprecedented research in terms of the currently unexplained phenomenons such as the formation of gravity and how it has changed over the many years. 

Another research venture is being led by the European Space Agency. They are working on the Euclid Space Telescope which is due for launch in 2022 and is estimated to be about 800 million pounds. The scientists plan on working to map the distribution of Dark Matter in the universe. This research would explain many of the mysteries surrounding Dark Energy.

The Spektr-RG telescope, a Russian-German joint project, is yet another incredible new type of telescope. It will map X-rays across the sky at a level that has never before been documented. This advancement will provide a much clearer image of the structure of the universe and help to explain black holes better. Theoretically, the telescope will find three million black holes that haven’t been discovered to this day. Germany came up with the eRosita system and Russia came up with the ART-XC hardware, so the telescope is fueled by teamwork. It will map the radiation in the universe in a range of .2 to 30 kiloelectron volts and will find the greatest concentrations of dark matter. This telescope is said to be one of the most important venture in terms of astrophysics in post-Soviet Russia. 

Discovering how the universe works and why it is constantly expanding could help solve many of the mysteries of our time. In recent decades, many nations have been turning towards the sky for exploration. All of the various efforts to explain the complexities and secrets of the universe will hopefully allow for the next stage of human development and alter our path for millenia to come.