Brussels, 29 Oct 2003
Astronomers have drawn up the most detailed map of the Universe to date, which they claim proves beyond doubt the omnipresence of 'dark energy' throughout the cosmos.
The three dimensional map plots the position of some 200,000 galaxies, equivalent to around six per cent of the known Universe. It was drawn up by over 200 astronomers from 13 institutes around the world in a collaboration known as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS).
The theory of a mysterious, all pervading cosmic force first arose when astronomers studied exploding stars in deep space. An earlier galactic map drawn up in 2003 seemed to strongly support the existence of dark energy, and scientists now claim that these latest results are conclusive.
Carlos Frenk from Durham University in the UK says: 'This new work provides a powerful confirmation that this quality exists in the Universe. Dark energy is unassailable now and that was not the case a year ago.'
Thanks to SDSS, astronomers now know that 70 per cent of the Universe is dark energy, 25 per cent is traditional dark matter, and the ordinary matter that makes up the Earth and stars accounts for just five per cent of the cosmos.
Having confirmed the presence of dark energy, the next challenge for scientists is to come up with a theory of exactly what it is.
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