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November 22 2012

Dark energy hints hidden in cosmic voids


IF YOU gaze long enough into the void, the void might begin to speak to you. Giant regions of near-empty space known as cosmic voids could help us get a handle on dark energy, the mysterious stuff that is speeding up the expansion of the universe.

If gravity were the dominant force at work, the expansion would be slowing down, as matter gives in to the pull of other matter. But more than a decade ago, supernovae studies revealed that the expansion is speeding up. This suggests the vacuum of space-time must have an inherent energy that is repulsing gravity.

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