Planck Satellite Mission sheds light on the Universe’s ‘Heart of Darkness’

The universe just got 100 million years older. The Planck satellite mission recently revealed detailed maps showing that the universe is about 13.8 billion years old through examining light fossils and sound echoes from the Big Bang by looking at background radiation. Not only did the images show how old our universe is, but it also revealed important new developments in dark energy and dark matter research.

Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe explains dark matter and dark energy’s key importance in the universe’s growth. The Planck satellite’s findings showed that there is less dark energy and more dark matter than scientists figured. Instead of 71.4% of the universe being composed of dark energy- the force that seems to be pushing space apart, it is now 68.3%. Additionally, the Hubble Constant, which characterizes the rate of the universe’s expansion, is slightly slower than previously thought. The amount of dark matter- the force that pulls galaxies together, also increased from 21.9% to 26.8%.

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First image of the oldest light in our universe. Image via Space.com

Coauthors Jeremiah Ostriker and Simon Mitton praised the Planck mission with Ostriker commenting, “The age, content, and structure of the early universe is exquisitely revealed in the Planck data. The results confirm that the fundamental properties of our universe can be described by a simple model of the universe, known as the standard model of cosmology. That is a great achievement.”

Another notable contribution of the Planck mission was that the images also support the inflation theory, which scientists came up with around 1980. This theory says that the universe expanded extremely rapidly within the first few moments of the Big Bang.

The deepest darkest secrets of the universe became less deep and dark- but as Ostriker and Mitton say, this cosmological narrative is far from complete.

Heart of Darkness coverHeart of Darkness describes the incredible saga of humankind’s quest to unravel the deepest secrets of the universe. Over the past thirty years, scientists have learned that two little-understood components–dark matter and dark energy–comprise most of the known cosmos, explain the growth of all cosmic structure, and hold the key to the universe’s fate. The story of how evidence for the so-called “Lambda-Cold Dark Matter” model of cosmology has been gathered by generations of scientists throughout the world is told here by one of the pioneers of the field, Jeremiah Ostriker, and his coauthor Simon Mitton.

From humankind’s early attempts to comprehend Earth’s place in the solar system, to astronomers’ exploration of the Milky Way galaxy and the realm of the nebulae beyond, to the detection of the primordial fluctuations of energy from which all subsequent structure developed, this book explains the physics and the history of how the current model of our universe arose and has passed every test hurled at it by the skeptics. Throughout this rich story, an essential theme is emphasized: how three aspects of rational inquiry–the application of direct measurement and observation, the introduction of mathematical modeling, and the requirement that hypotheses should be testable and verifiable–guide scientific progress and underpin our modern cosmological paradigm.

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  1. [...] Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe. AMS’ research comes only a week after the Planck Satellite Mission’s discovery that there is more dark matter than scientists had previously [...]