One of the biggest mystery in the Universe is the so-called dark energy. Scientists and astronomers don’t know exactly what it is, only that is dark and that is something like an energy. However, thanks to the advance in science, astronomers managed for the first time in history to clearly see the effects of the dark energy on Galaxy clusters.
The astronomers spotted the effects using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and they put together a theory of what dark energy could be and what’s the destiny of the Universe. This is a result of years of hard work and according to the scientists, it’s different from other dark energy-related research methods which are based on supernovas and distance measurements.
This method of testing dark energy are based on X-ray results and on the gravity to vie with the accelerated expansion in the growth of cosmic structures. Due to their results, the scientists believe now that the dark energy is a form of repulse gravity which dominates the Universe, but they agree that it could also be a cosmological constant or modifications in general relativity at the largest scale.
The team of researchers from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., used this new method of testing dark energy by observing how the growth of galaxy clusters are affected by cosmic acceleration over time.
“This result could be described as ‘arrested development of the universe’. Whatever is forcing the expansion of the universe to speed up is also forcing its development to slow down,” said Alexey Vikhlinin, leader of the research.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was used to observe hot gas in multiple galaxy clusters, and the astronomers noticed that the a universe dominated by dark energy is aligned over time with the increase in the mass of galaxy clusters. According to the scientists, it’s very difficult for galaxy clusters to grow when the universe is stretched and they spotted these effects in the results of their work.
“For years, scientists have wanted to start testing how gravity works on large scales and now, we finally have. This is a test that general relativity could have failed,” said William Forman, co-author at the study.
The X-ray results combined with supernovas information has given astronomers the best data so far about dark energy properties and it clearly shows that dark energy exists and it’s a cosmological constant. However, this raises another debate as scientists believe now that hidden dimensions really exist.
“Putting all of this data together gives us the strongest evidence yet that dark energy is the cosmological constant, or in other words, that ‘nothing weighs something’. A lot more testing is needed, but so far Einstein’s theory is looking as good as ever,” added Vikhlinin.
Ultimately, the astronomers predicted the destiny of the Universe that will continue to accelerate and expand which means that the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies will never merge with the Virgo galaxy clusters. In conclusion, the astronomers believe that about 100 billion years from now, we will not be able to see other galaxies from the Milky Way, and many other galaxy clusters will eventually decompose.