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Dark Cosmology Centre > Research

 

Dark Cosmology Centre (DARK, for short) studies the cosmological aspects of the ‘dark Universe'. 

Understanding the dark Universe is one of the current main goals in the natural sciences. The rationale of DARK is to apply new observational methods to probe the dark Universe in a unified observational and theoretical framework.

Through theoretical investigations, and observations of cosmic lighthouses such as gamma ray bursts (GRBs) and quasars, DARK aims to find the keys to the very distant, very young Universe.

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Black Holes
Black holes are extreme concentrations of matter with a gravitational pull that not even light escapes. Supermassive black holes, millions to billions of times the solar mass, formed in the early Universe at the focal points of coalescing matter that evolved into galaxies.

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Dark Matter
Dark matter has been observed in a wide range of scales, from the smallest dwarf galaxies, over galaxy clusters, to the entire Universe. These observations show that dark matter is about a factor 5 more abundant than normal matter. One of the key quests of astrophysics is to unravel the nature of the dark matter particle.

Read more about Dark Energy >>
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Dark Energy
Observations of supernovae have revealed the unexpected finding that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating. This is attributed to the presence of dark energy, dominating the energy content of the Universe. The nature of this mysterious component is completely unknown.

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Cosmic Dust
Cosmic dust can have crucial effects on the light from distant objects such as gamma-ray bursts and supernovae. Cosmic dust is probably also the seed for the formation of planets like the Earth.


At DARK we use observations of 'cosmic lighthouses' to illuminate the dark Universe. These are sources of light so luminous that they can be seen to very large distances and hence probe the early Universe. We combine information from cosmic explosions (such as supernovae and gamma-ray bursts) and large mass concentrations:


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Supernovae (SNe) are massive explosions, associated with the violent deaths of certain stars.  In some cases they can be used to measure cosmological distances.  SNe have been observed throughout the history of mankind, and the last SN observed in our own galaxy was Kepler's SN of 1604.

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Gamma-ray bursts are related to the explosive deaths of some massive stars. Therefore they trace star-formation and as such they will be used as crucial probes of the newborn galaxies that host such explosions and possibly also to constrain the nature of dark energy.


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Clusters of galaxies are key laboratories for measuring the properties and amount of dark matter. Most of the luminous matter in clusters of galaxies is a million degree, tenous plasma filling the space in between the galaxies. X-ray observations of this plasma will be used as a key diagnostic of the dark matter dominated cluster potential, binding the hot plasma.