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Computational simulations shine light on dark energy

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It could determine the fate of the universe, but until now astronomers have been unable to determine the nature of dark energy. Now, scientists believe they have found a technique to find its true form – by analysing the way sound waves, produced shortly after the Big Bang, propagate through the universe.

The astronomers, based at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, UK, discovered the technique by analysing hundreds of computer simulations of these ripples in the matter of the universe. They found that the ripples appeared to change in length depending on different characteristics of dark energy.

By using the results of the simulations as a ‘yardstick’ to compare with real observations of these sound waves, scientists should now be able to get a better understanding of dark energy. These observations could be made by the SPACE satellite mission, a programme led by Bologna, which is under consideration by the European Space Agency.

The research was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.