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Space exploration, capable of rewinding the history of the universe, is destroying time and space to unravel the mystery of dark energy.

This is the Hobby-Eberly Telescope’s Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX), the first major study of how dark energy changes over time.

His goal is to create a three-dimensional map of 2.5 million galaxies that will help astronomers understand how and why the expansion of the universe accelerates over time.

According to the statement, HETDEX has been collecting information since 2017 and will be operational until December 2023, when the largest spectral survey in history is completed.

Ursa Major and Orion

The telescope covers two areas, one aimed at the seven bright stars of Ursa Major and one aimed at the bright-looking star Orion, the most well-known constellation in the universe.

The telescope records approximately 32,000 spectra per sweep, capturing traces of the universe of light from each object within the telescope’s field of view.

HETDEX does not target a specific target, but records everything found in a specific area of ​​the sky. Scientists then review the data and select the objects they want to investigate.

To create a map that unravels the mystery of dark energy, telescopes are exploring a billion spectra looking for examples of specific types of galaxies.

These galaxies represent an era when the universe was only billions of years ago (now 13.7 billion years ago).

Their spectra carry information about how fast galaxies are moving away from us as a result of the expansion of the universe, a measure known as redshift.

This allows astronomers to determine how the rate of expansion of the universe has changed over the decades. This is the key to determining the nature of dark energy.

Related topic: New cosmological model solves the mystery of dark energy

Break time and space

HETDEX is the only experiment ever conducted in time and space to observe the dark energy components of the universe and how they are evolving.

Another important novelty: Other studies use distant supernovae and phenomena called gravitational lenses to measure the expansion of the universe. With gravitational lenses, light from huge objects such as galaxies and black holes is deflected by gravity, while HETDEX focuses on sound waves from the Big Bang. ..

Although you cannot actually hear the sound in the vacuum of the universe, astronomers can see the effect of these primitive sound waves on the distribution of matter throughout the universe.

During the first 400,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe existed as a soup of sound-producing substances and energy particles – they helped the substances begin to aggregate together.

Its primitive grouping can still be seen through the so-called afterglow of the Big Bang, the earliest and farthest light we can see in the universe.

It can also be recognized by the distribution of galaxies throughout the history of the universe through the waves that indicate the existence of galaxies.

The records of those waves show astronomers how the expansion of the universe driven by dark energy has changed over time.

Hobby-Eberly Telescope.Credit: Ethan Tweedie Space Iceberg

To understand the importance of this mission, we need to remember that the universe we see is just the tip of the iceberg of the vast universe.

Everything we can observe with a telescope represents about 5 percent of all the mass and energy of the universe.

We know that there is dark matter in the universe and we cannot see it, but we can understand the effect of gravity on visible matter. That’s 27 percent of the universe.

The remaining 68% of the entire universe is dark energy, a mysterious force that pushes galaxy clusters and galaxies away and expands as they grow older.

Dark energy counteracts the effects of dark matter. Dark matter integrates the universe and prevents it from expanding and spreading.

Little else knows about dark energy. The mystery is what HETDEX seeks to discover by connecting what the ancient universe was like and observing how dark energy behaves and evolves today.

Rewind the history of the universe

HETDEX may rewind the history of the universe, observing still unknown details, and verifying whether the three hypotheses currently being examined for the nature of dark energy fit the observations.

Here are three possible explanations for these: Dark energy, on the other hand, is part of the quantum vacuum energy (zero point energy), which promotes the expansion of the universe and is related to the cosmological constant of general relativity.

Another possible explanation is that dark energy is like a set of particles or energy fields that are still unknown. The third possibility is that Einstein’s theory of gravity is wrong.

The three explanations are just hypotheses for now, whether any of them are valid, whether another unpublished explanation of dark energy needs to be selected, and which needs to be continued after 2023. It’s up to HETDEX to decide if it’s there. Uncertainty about what causes the mysterious expansion of the universe.

Image above: Approximate values ​​of the three known components of the universe (normal matter, dark matter, A, and dark energy). Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

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