Unpicking the mysteries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy in our universe

An EU-funded collaboration allowed researchers from Durham University to investigate the mysterious particles and energy which drive the expansion of our universe.


Dark matter is an invisible substance thought to make up 27% of everything in our Universe, with a further 70% made up of dark energy, a similarly unidentified substance. Researchers at Durham University have begun to unpick this mystery by using the magnification effect of massive galaxy clusters.

The gravitational force of massive objects in space bends light that travels through and past them and scientists have developed a technique - gravitational lensing – which allows them to study faint galaxies from early in the history of the universe. The Durham researchers have reverse-engineered the process to find regions of dark matter and energy by comparing the visible mass of galaxy clusters with the mass inferred by the scale of their gravity.    

The University received €100,000 over five years from the EU which helped to bring project coordinator Dr Richard Massey back to the UK after several highly productive years at the California Institute of Technology. Members of the team have also received EU fellowships aimed at younger researchers at the beginning of their careers.

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