Fermilab, UChicago scientists tap South Pole Telescope data to shed light on universe

A team of scientists have demonstrated how to “weigh” galaxy clusters using light from the earliest moments of the universe—a new method that could help shed light on dark matter, dark energy and other mysteries of the cosmos, such as how the universe formed.

The new method calculates the bending of light around galaxy clusters using the orientation of light from shortly after the Big Bang—data taken by the South Pole Telescope and the Dark Energy Camera.

“Gravitational lensing,” a phenomenon in which light distorts as it’s affected by the gravity of big objects like galaxies, can function as a kind of magnifying glass. It’s helped scientists discover key information about the universe—but it’s always been done by looking for the smearing of light around distant objects like stars.

In a study published in Physical Review Letters, Fermilab and University of Chicago scientist Brad Benson and colleagues use a different method to calculate the masses of distant galaxies: the polarization, or orientation, of the light left over from the moments after the Big Bang.

Read more at UChicago News.

Photo: The South Pole Telescope and Dark Energy Camera provided key data for scientists to create a new method to weigh galaxy clusters. Photo by Daniel Michalik.