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Galaxy cluster X-rays confirm dark energy
18:00 18 May 04
NewScientist.com news service
New space telescope observations have confirmed once and for all that the Universe is dominated by dark energy.
A team of astrophysicists used NASA's orbiting Chandra telescope to measure X-rays coming from 26 galaxy clusters. The observations imply that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating. For that to happen, ordinary gravity must be overpowered by some kind of repulsive gravity - labelled dark energy by cosmologists.
This acceleration was first spotted in the 1990s by looking at distant supernova explosions. It was later backed up by decoding the detailed pattern of spots in the cosmic microwave background, the afterglow of the Big Bang.
But both of those methods rely on uncertain physics. "A supernova is a complex thing," says Steve Allen of Cambridge University, UK, leader of the team. He says their approach is "simple - it's just the physics of hot gases".