Study of Distant Galaxies Prove “Dark Energy” Plentiful and Powerful

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April 4 2012 3:32 PM

Study of Distant Galaxies Prove “Dark Energy” Plentiful and Powerful

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(New research suggests dark energy is present in large amounts throughout the universe, and is rapidly helping to expand it. This 30-minute exposure photograph shows a US Marine armoured vehicle from 1st Battalion 8th, Bravo in front of The Milky Way Galaxy (R) during an operation not far from Shir Chazay in Musa Qala district of Helmand province on January 23, 2011.)

Photo by DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Images

After years of theorizing, astrophysicists say mysterious “dark energy” does in fact exist in large amounts ... and it’s potent stuff.

After studying over 260,000 galaxies, scientists at the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey—appropriately abbreviated as BOSS—now believe that 6 billion years ago gravity could no longer slow the expansion of the universe. At that temporal tipping point, dark energy took over and has been rapidly expanding the universe to this day.

The dark energy was discovered in part by studying massive primordial sound waves that crashed through the universe after the Big Bang. And the idea that dark energy covers a whopping 73 percent of the universe and is making it expand fits in with Einstein’s theory of relativity.

By understanding more about dark energy, scientists hope to learn more about the universe’s past, present, and future.

Still as mystified as us? Don’t worry; the Wu-Tang Clan's GZA has lectured on the topic at Harvard and NYU. Maybe next he’ll come to a city near you.

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Video produced by Krishnan Vasuvedan

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.