Explained: What is dark energy, and have scientists finally detected it? 

What is the news?

Last week, an international team of researchers made the first putative direct detection of dark energy. 

What is XENON1T experiment? 

The XENON1T experiment is the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment and was operated deep underground at the INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy. In this experiment scientists noticed certain unexpected results. As per them, dark energy may be responsible for it. Hence, this experiment can also be used to detect dark energy. 

What is dark energy and dark matter? 

Everything we see makes up less than 5% of the universe. About 27% is dark matter and 68% is dark energy.

Dark energy is the mysterious form of energy that makes up about 68% of the universe. Dark energy has been noted as “the most profound mystery in all of science”.

While dark matter attracts and holds galaxies together, dark energy repels and causes the expansion of our universe. Both components are invisible.

More is known about dark matter, since its existence was suggested as early as the 1920s, while dark energy wasn’t discovered until 1998. Large-scale experiments like XENON1T have been designed to directly detect dark matter, by searching for signs of dark matter ‘hitting’ ordinary matter. Dark energy is even more difficult to find. 

Chandra :: Resources :: Dark Matter (Illustrations)

When can we get direct detection of dark energy? 

The team is hopeful that upcoming upgrades to the XENON1T experiment and similar experiments such as LUX-Zeplin – a next generation dark matter experiment located at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, and PandaX-xT – another project at China Jinping Underground Laboratory could help directly detect dark energy within the next decade. 

Source: This post is based on the article ” Explained: What is dark energy, and have scientists finally detected it?” published in The Indian Express on 28th Sep 2021. 

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