New Map of Dark Matter Puts the Big Bang Theory on Trial
To immense relief — and frustration — the map is just what scientists had expected. The distribution of dark matter agrees with our current understanding of a universe born with certain properties in a big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. But for all the map’s confirmatory power, it still tells us little about the true identity of dark matter, which acts as an invisible scaffold for galaxies and cosmic structure. It also does not explain an even bigger factor shaping the cosmos, known as dark energy, an enigmatic force seemingly pushing the universe apart at ever greater speeds. Tantalizingly, however, a small discrepancy between the new findings and previous observations of the early universe might just crack open the door for new physics. To discuss these issues, The Kavli Foundation turned to three scientists involved in creating this new cosmic map, compiled by the Dark Energy Survey.