Monday, October 24, 2016

Playing BINGO with the Universe: Astronomers Aim to Unravel the Mysteries of Dark Energy

Diagram representing the accelerated expansion of the universe due to dark energy. Image credit: Ann Feild (STScI)

Now you might wonder, how exactly playing bingo could help astronomers uncover the mysteries of elusive dark matter? Well, instead of playing this game literally, an international team of researchers, has proposed a project named BINGO (Baryon acoustic oscillations In Neutral Gas Observations) to build a special purpose radio telescope that could provide crucial insight on the real nature of dark energy. So, does this mean we could be hearing astronomers shouting out loud: “Bingo!” or rather “BINGO!”, when solving another astronomical conundrum?

The BINGO project is currently in the conceptual phase. Under this program, researchers from Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Uruguay, propose to construct a radio telescope to map redshifted neutral hydrogen emission. The project is perceived by the scientific community as a novel and cost-effective way to map the large-scale redshifted hydrogen using the intensity mapping technique.

BINGO would allow astronomers to conduct independent measurements of the so-called Baryon Acoustic Oscillations (BAOs) at radio wavelengths, what could provide new insights on cosmological parameters, such as the equation-of-state of dark energy. BAOs are regular, periodic fluctuations in the density of the visible matter of the universe. They are used as a standard ruler measuring the expansion of the universe as a function of redshift and so, what allows to constrain the properties of dark energy.

Thus, while there is a real multitude of various bingo sites around the web, and you can simply choose the one that is most suitable for you, by just visiting the website: www.bingosites.co.uk, BINGO would be the first "game" where dark energy’s secrets are at stake.

The instrument for the BINGO project, that will be probably constructed in Uruguay, will be a 40-meter transit telescope with an offset focus. Operating in the frequency range between 960 to 1260 MHz, its focal plane will contain 50 dual polarization feeds, in order to reach the required sky coverage. The total cost of building the telescope is estimated to be $4 million.

Astronomers decided to play this $4-million bingo game because we still don’t know much about dark energy that contributes to about 68 percent of the total energy in the observable universe. It is a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space and tends to increase the rate of expansion of the universe. Although dark energy is thought to be very homogeneous, not very dense and is not known to interact through any of the fundamental forces other than gravity, its real nature still remains a matter of speculation for the scientists. BINGO could change that, making precise cosmological measurements a reality in not so distant future.

1 comment:

  1. Dark matter and dark energy, space and time do not exist. However, there has to be something: “Nothing” in our world corresponds to “something” that belongs to an “epistemologically different world”.

    On this topic see on Amazon: “DARK MATTER AND DARK ENERGY, SPACE AND TIME, AND OTHER PSEUDO-NOTIONS IN COSMOLOGY” by Gabriel Vacariu (Author), Mihai Vacariu (Author) (also my 5 books free (in English) at my webpage http://filosofie.unibuc.ro/cv_gabriel_vacariu/): Dark matter and dark energy. Two notions that have troubled cosmologists for a long time. Why? Because they don’t have a “satisfactory” definition, and nobody can identify the “matter” or “forces” that govern them. Currently, we can only deduce the existence of these two notions from the strange movement of the galaxies and the manner they move away from one another, with increasing speed. However, these are not the only mysteries that cosmology cannot yet explain. What happened before the Big Bang? Is the universe still expanding (cosmic inflation)? What is the relation between the theory of relativity and the laws of quantum mechanics? What if the answers to all these questions were far more accessible than researchers thought? What if the real “culprit” for their absence was in fact the framework used by cosmologists, a framework that involves the existence of space and time?

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