New results from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Anglo-Australian Telescope atop Siding Spring Mountain in Australia confirm that dark energy is a smooth, uniform force that now dominates over the effects of gravity. The observations follow from careful measurements of the separations between pairs of galaxies.
But what causes that "smooth, uniform force" that rules over gravity? Astronomers have known for years that something unknown apears to be "pulling" our Milky Way and tens of thousands of other galaxies toward itself at a breakneck 22 million kilometers (14 million miles) per hour. But they couldn’t pinpoint exactly what, or where it is.
Burt Ovrut, most famous for his work on string theory, currently Professor of Theoretical High Energy Physics at the University of Pennsylvania, imagined two branes, universes like ours, separated by a tiny gap as tiny as 10-32 meters. There would be no communictaion between the two universes except for our parallel sister universe's gravitational pull, which could cross the tiny gap.
According to current physics these nano black holes could not be created at the energy levels the LHC is capable of producing. They could only be created if a parallel universe actually exists, providing the extra gravitation needed to generate the nano black holes.
Back to the present, 26 astronomers (from 14 different institutions) using the Anglo-Australian Telescope, contributed to the ‘WiggleZ Dark Energy Survey', which mapped the distribution of galaxies over an unprecedented volume of the Universe.
Because light takes so long to reach Earth, it was the equivalent of looking seven billion years back in time –- more than half way back to the Big Bang.
“This is the first individual galaxy survey to span such a long stretch of cosmic time,” said Michael Drinkwater from the School of Mathematics and Physics (SMP) at The University of Queensland (UQ).
The survey, which covered more than 200,000 galaxies, took four years to complete and aimed to measure the properties of ‘dark energy' -- a concept first cast by Einstein in his Theory of General Relativity.
Dark energy is the name astronomers gave in the late 1990s to an unknown cause of the Universe's accelerating expansion. This mysterious phenomenon, that defies gravity, makes up about 72 percent of the Universe, with the remaining 24 percent constituting dark matter, and 4 percent making up the planets, stars and galaxies that we normally hear about.
“The discovery of acceleration was an enormous shock, because it went against everything we thought we knew about gravity,” co-researcher Dr. Tamara Davis from the University of Queensland said. “The problem was, that supernova data couldn't tell us whether dark energy was genuinely there, or whether Einstein's theory of gravity itself was failing."
In a new survey from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Anglo-Australian Telescope atop Siding Spring Mountain in Australia the distances to galaxies were measured using a "standard ruler." This method is based on the preference for pairs of galaxies to be separated by a distance of 490 million light-years today. The separation appears to get smaller as the galaxies move farther away, just like a ruler of fixed length.
'WiggleZ' used two other kinds of observations to provide an independent check on the supernova results: One measured the pattern of how galaxies are distributed in space and the other measured how quickly clusters of galaxies formed over time.
According to Professor Warrick Couch, Director of the Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, confirming the existence of the anti-gravity agent is a significant step forward in understanding the Universe.
“Although the exact physics required to explain dark energy still remains a mystery, knowing that dark energy exists has advanced astronomers' understanding of the origin, evolution and fate of the Universe,” he said.
The WiggleZ observations were possible due to a powerful spectrograph located at the Anglo-Australian Telescope. The spectrograph was able to image 392 galaxies an hour, despite the galaxies being located halfway to the edge of the observable Universe.
Elsewhere, The $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a more than 15,000-pound (6,900-kilogram) device searching for cosmic- rays -- high-energy charged particles from outer space -- was delivered last week intact to the ISS.
The instrument will employ a nearly 4,200-pound (1,900 kg) permanent magnet to generate a strong, uniform magnetic field more than 3,000 times more intense than Earth's. This deflects cosmic rays so that a battery of detectors can analyze their properties, such as charge and velocity, and beam their findings to mission control.
Sam Ting, Principal Investigator for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 experiment, hopes that it will provide data that proves the existence of parallel universes that are composed of anti-matter. Discoveries could verify theories and answer basic questions regarding how the Universe formed.
According to Ting, the experiment was already accruing data as it awaited its launch date. Scheduled to fly aboard the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, STS-134, AMS-02 will search through cosmic rays for exotic particles, antimatter and dark matter. The experiment will be mounted to the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) and will require no spacewalks to attach.
While Ting has certain things that he hopes to discover, he believes that the most exciting questions are those that scientists don't even know to ask yet. From its high vantage point it is hoped that the experiment will open new windows into particle physics and cause a revolution in our understanding of the Universe.
Ting hopes that AMS-02 will provide data that proves the existence of parallel universes that are composed of anti-matter. It is also hoped that the experiment will also discover particles that contain magnetic and electric particles that are exactly the opposite of ordinary particles.
Discoveries could verify theories and answer basic questions regarding how the Universe formed, such as that of Burt Ovrut, who pioneered the use of M-theory to explain the Big bang without the presence of a singularity. Ovrut and colleagues imagine two branes, universes like ours, separated by a tiny gap as tiny as 10-32 meters. There would be no communication between the two universes except for our parallel sister universe's gravitational pull, which could cross the tiny gap.
Orvut's theory could explain the effect of dark matter where areas of the Universe are heavier than they should be given everything that's present. With Ovrut's theory, the nagging problems surrounding the Big Bang (beginning from what, and caused how?) are replaced by an eternal cosmic cycle where dark energy is no longer a mysterious unknown quantity, but rather the very extra gravitational force that drives the universe to universe (brane-brane) interaction.