Dark Matter, Dark Energy
Scientists posit that dark matter and dark energy—which emit and absorb no light and are impossible to detect directly—make up more than 95 percent of the universe. They know this dark sector plays a key role in holding the universe together, but they don’t yet know what it’s made of. Because it can’t be detected, researchers must study its impact on other measurable bodies; and advances in imaging technology could reveal new clues.
The European Space Agency is building the Euclid satellite, in a mission to map the geometry of the dark universe. Likewise, NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) can now be used to image the near infrared sky with 100 times the magnification provided by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Rachel Bean and Nicholas Battaglia, Astronomy, are working to make sure as much information as possible can be extracted from the Euclid and WFIRST mission data to reveal wide-ranging signatures of gravity and dark sector physics. They are developing, refining, and applying tools and techniques that extend beyond the standard statistical methods and observations and are tuned to reveal the complex phenomena expected in theories about the dark sector, including modified gravity models and massive neutrinos.
The research will bolster the scientific community’s ability to answer fundamental questions about the workings of the universe. The outcomes will ensure that the Euclid and WFIRST mission data is fully utilized to uncover potentially tantalizing facets of the dark sector.