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A new map of the cosmos ‘sees’ the dark Universe


A new map of the cosmos ‘sees’ the dark Universe

Scientists have recently discovered a “Dark universe” which exists alongside our own ‘visible’ universe, and scientists have even managed to map it. For the first time in the history of astronomy, are experts able to observe the structure of our universe with just about the same clarity that they can see the universe at its very start

Map of dark matter made from gravitational lensing measurements of 26 million galaxies in the Dark Energy Survey.

Astronomers from the international Dark Energy Survey project are convinced their discovery point to the fact that just four percent of the universe is composed of ordinary matter. They argue how the rest of the universe is composed of substances that remain ‘dark,’ a complete mystery, and only a guess for experts.

In other words, for the very first time, experts from DES including Dr. David Bacon from the University’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG) are able to observe the structure of our universe with just about the same clarity that they can see the universe at its very start—allowing them to answer countless questions on how it evolved.

The scientific study indicates how 26 percent of the universe we live in is made of a mysterious cold dark matter, and a staggering 70 per cent, exists in the form of an elusive dark energy.

Experts still don’t know much about dark matter and dark energy, but it is believed that Dark energy is the culprit for the accelerating expansion of the visible universe.

“Dark matter is invisible to us, but we can see its effects – its gravity is bending the light from distant galaxies, so they look distorted to us. We can work back from measuring the distortions to mapping the cause. It’s so exciting to see this truly vast map of the dark Universe at last,” said Dr. Bacon.

Dr. Bacon and his colleagues composed a “dark matter map” with the help of data from the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco telescope in Chile—considered as one of the most powerful cameras out there, which has the ability to the take digital images of light from distant galaxies located around eight billion light years from us.

Scientists created several maps of galaxy positions used as tracers, then, experts managed to precisely measure the shapes of around 26 million galaxies in order to map the patterns of Dark Matter over billions of years using gravitational lensing.

This image of the NGC 1398 galaxy was taken with the Dark Energy Camera.

“These results come after a decade of dedicated effort from scientists around the world including here at the ICG. Even though these DES measurements clearly show we live in a Universe dominated by lots of dark stuff; its origin remains a huge mystery to science,” added Professor Bob Nichol, Director of the ICG and long-time DES collaborator.

Experts found how it is easier to measure the large scale distribution of matter in our universe in the distant past than it is to accurately measure it today.

According to experts, in the first 400,000 years after the Big Bang, our universe was filled with a glowing gas, the light from which survives even today. Using the European Space Agency’s orbiting Planck observatory, scientists managed to create a map of the cosmic background radiation, offering us a snapshot of the Universe at that very early time.

Since the very beginning, the gravity of dark matter has pulled mass together over time, while dark energy has been pushing matter apart. With the help of the Planck map, scientists are able to calculate precisely how this dynamic plays out as the Universe evolves over 14 billion years.

“These new DES measurements are very intriguing, as they support the simplest version of our dark universe theory,” added Dr. Bacon.


Ivan is editor-in-chief at, he also writes for Universe Explorers.
You may have seen him appear on the Discovery and History Channel.

1 Comment
  • DarwinGarcia

    This is what scientists do in their free time which they seem to have lots of… imagine up all sorts of dark stuff to explain things they don’t understand… Why not just leave it at “we don’t understand”…

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