There’s a lot of mystery revolving around dark energy. Astronomers don’t even know how it looks or what it’s made of. They simply called it ‘dark energy’ due to lack of pretty much any knowledge about it. We know that the dark energy allows our Universe to expand at an accelerated rate, and that it’s a lot more scattered across space than normal matter. Dark energy means about 70% of the total mass of the Cosmos.
It’s certain that scientists must learn a lot more about the mysterious dark energy, and they’re making precise steps in that direction. Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) is a new telescope that will embark in a five-year mission this year. The purpose is to create a 3D map of the Universe with significant detail.
Shall we understand dark energy better?
The upcoming map is expected to be a true treasure for cosmologists. Astronomers shall be using it for exploring various topics about the Universe, including the mysterious dark energy. To be more precise, DESI is a spectrograph, and it’s being created onto the Mayall Telescope from the Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona.
DESI is composed of 5,000 individual robots the size of a pencil. Each of these robots controls a fiber-optic eye, and together they spot a spectra over a wavelength range. The view will be from the near ultraviolet, and into the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
DESI Director Michael Levi declared:
After a decade in planning and R&D, installation and assembly, we are delighted that DESI can soon begin its quest to unravel the mystery of dark energy,
DESI is the work of scientists from several nations: the US, UK, France, Spain, and Mexico. The USA’s Department of Energy Office of Science is the principal funder. Several other institutions and foundations have gotten involved in the project as well.
Not only the dark energy causes the expansion of the Universe
Our Universe expands mainly due to the Big Bang that occurred about 13,7 billion years ago. That event is the one that triggered the expansion itself. In fact, we must not understand the Big Bang as a literal ‘bang,’ despite its name. The ‘bang’ is actually the start of the constant expansion of matter, time, and space that we’re all living within every day, every minute, and every second of our existence.
While the Universe started to expand and having gravity as a major element in the overall picture, all the matter, space, and time should have been pulled back to the singularity from where it all began in the first place. The expansion of the Universe should have been slowing down by now, or at least remain constant. But astronomers remained astonished when they concluded that a mysterious force is causing the expansion to accelerate, and it makes up the majority of the mass of our Cosmos. Certainly, this structure is not made of atoms and molecules like normal matter, and astronomers called it ‘dark energy’.
Dark energy was discovered over two decades ago, in 1998. The lucky scientists who discovered it were spread into two international teams that included the American astronomers Adam Riess and Saul Perlmutter, as well as an Australian astronomer named Brian Schmidt. The two teams used telescopes, including the ones of the Keck Observatory and the MMT Observatory.
The Big Bang Theory was first proposed in the 1920s by Georges Lemaître, a Belgian physicist and priest. He theorized that the whole Universe began from a single and primordial atom. While there were many contestants of the theory and so there are even nowadays, we have plenty of reasons to rely on it. Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the cosmic background radiation, and the expansion of the Universe are solid proof that our physical existence began from a very small point of energy. However, nobody knows for sure what existed before, what triggered the ‘bang’ itself, and so on, but scientists are constantly looking for answers.