Cosmic motion offers 'new window' on evolving Universe

23 March 2012

The first observation of a cosmic effect could give astronomers a new tool for understanding the forces behind the Universe's formation and growth, including the enigmatic phenomena of dark energy and dark matter.

An international team led by Princeton University, and including Oxford University scientists, has detected the movement of distant galaxy clusters via the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (kSZ) effect, which has never before been seen.

To find the kSZ effect, the researchers combined data from the ACT and BOSS projects. ACT is a 6-metre telescope in Chile built to produce a detailed map of the cosmic microwave background radiation using microwave frequencies. BOSS is a visible-light survey in New Mexico, part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-III project, which has observed thousands of galaxies and quasars.

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