purple nebula and cosmic dust

(Credit: Getty/ClaudioVentrella)

If you aren’t sure what dark matter or dark energy are, don’t feel insecure about it — scientists aren’t entirely sure either. (There are some very convincing theories, though.) Combined, the two entities make up approximately 96 percent of the matter and energy in the universe — meaning “normal” matter, like what comprises you and everything you interact with, is the exception.

This week the Dark Energy Survey, a consortium of scientists across the globe, released a number of papers from the first year of their collaborative research effort, one of which produced “the most accurate measurement ever made of the present large-scale structure of the universe,” according to a press release. The map, pictured, shows a portion of the sky with the density of matter, both dark and ordinary, depicted on a color scale.

This covers a distance of 1,500 square degrees of the sky. In terms of our universe’s volume, that’s about 1/1200 of the visible universe, or 10 billion cubic parsecs. For context: one parsec is about 3.26 light-years across; our galaxy is about 100,000 light-years across; and the nearest star is around 4.4 light-years away, a little more than one parsec.Mapping …read more

Source:: Salon – Innovation

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