Dark Matter and Dark Energy

Over the past few decades, scientists have been conducting research to improve our understanding of the universe.

Matter is any substance that has mass and occupies a physical space. All of the matter around us, including galaxies and planets, makes up around 5% of the known universe. 25% is dark matter and around 69% is dark energy.

A pie chart answering the question "What is the Universe made of?" The chart displays various components of the universe and their respective percentages. Dark Energy constitutes the majority, taking up 69% of the chart in a rich purple shade. Adjacent to it, Dark Matter occupies 25% in a deep blue colour. Atomic Matter is represented with 5% and showcases an embedded graphic of galaxies and celestial bodies. Lastly, a narrow slice representing 1% of the chart in yellow is attributed to Photons, Neutrinos, and Black Holes. Each segment of the pie chart is accompanied by a label denoting the corresponding percentage value. The overall backdrop of the image is a dark gradient, setting the context of space.

This suggests that the matter we interact with only makes up a tiny portion of reality. Scientists are not sure about what dark matter and dark energy are, or how they work. However, they are sure about their existence.

Dark Matter

Scientists realised that there isn’t enough normal matter, as the gravity from the visible matter is too weak to form galaxies and other complex structures.

It became clear that there was a dark substance inside and around galaxies, which has a gravitational effect on visible matter. This dark substance is called dark matter.

A cosmic scene set against a deep blue space background dotted with stars. In the centre, a swirling pink and white galaxy with a luminous core is ensnared by a white grid symbolising gravity, demonstrating its distortion effect. Adjacent to it is an ethereal blue cloud labelled "Dark Matter", which also has a gravitational grid around it. This cloud encompasses two smaller celestial bodies or galaxies. The concept of "GRAVITY" is emphasised in bold letters at the bottom of the image, highlighting the gravitational force that both the tangible galaxy and the mysterious dark matter exert on their surroundings.

  • Dark matter makes it possible for galaxies to exist.

Dark matter does not appear to interact with observable electromagnetic radiation. Scientists can only detect dark matter from the gravitational effect it has on visible matter. So, they detect dark matter through gravitational lensing.

Regions with a high concentration of dark matter bend light that passes by, distorting the images captured by our telescopes on Earth.

A deep blue space background. On the left, there's a bright white celestial body encircled by a jagged silhouette, representing the effect of dark matter. This effect causes a distortion, illustrated by a warped blue and purple galaxy labelled as "Distorted Image" in the middle. Lines connect the celestial body and the distorted galaxy, suggesting the influence of the presence of dark matter. On the far right, there's an illustration of a white telescope stationed on Earth, which is observing both the celestial body and its distorted counterpart. Emphasised below in bold letters is the statement "DARK MATTER PRESENT", indicating the overarching theme of the image.

In regions with low dark matter present, the images will not be distorted.

A deep blue space background. On the left side, there's a luminous white celestial body termed "Distant Galaxy", encircled by a jagged silhouette. In the centre, a clear and sharp grey and white galaxy is labelled "Undistorted Image". Lines connect the distant galaxy and the undistorted galaxy, suggesting the direct path of light. On the right, an illustration of a white telescope stationed on Earth observes both the distant galaxy and its clear counterpart. The bold statement "NO DARK MATTER" is prominently displayed at the bottom, underscoring the absence of dark matter's effects in this scenario.

Dark Energy

More is unknown than is known about dark energy. Scientists are unable to detect or measure it directly; however, we can observe its effects on the universe’s expansion. Astronomers in the 20th century made observations that suggest that distant galaxies are moving away at an increasingly faster rate.

Dark energy is the name given to the mysterious force that is accelerating the expansion of our universe over time.

The rate of the universe’s expansion and its acceleration can be determined through observations. These measurements, along with other scientific data, have confirmed the existence of dark energy. They have also enabled scientists to provide an estimation of just how much of the substance exists.

  • Roughly 69% of the universe is dark energy