The shapes of a million galaxies show the beginning of the universe

A recent study published in the journal Physical Review D marked a significant advance in cosmology. A group of researchers analyzed more than a million galaxies to examine the origins of the universe’s current cosmic structures.

This study contributes to the understanding of the CDM model, the standard framework for the universe, which places importance on cold dark matter (CDM) and dark energy (the cosmological constant, ).

Primordial fluctuations

The model theorizes that primordial fluctuations, originating at the beginning of the universe, act as factors in the formation of all celestial objects, including stars, galaxies, and galaxy clusters.

These fluctuations, initially small, grow over time due to gravitational forces, eventually becoming dense regions of dark matter, or nearly so. These halos collide and merge, leading to the creation of galaxies.

Spatial distribution of galaxies

The spatial distribution of galaxies, which is greatly influenced by these primary fluctuations, has become an important goal of researchers.

In addition to this, galaxy shapes distributed throughout the universe also show these primary fluctuations. Traditional analysis, however, has mainly focused on the spatial distribution of galaxies as points.

Study focus

The research was led by Toshiki Kurita, a graduate student at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) at the time of the study (now a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics), and Kavli IPMU Professor Masahiro Takada.

The team developed a new method to measure the power spectrum of galaxy shapes. This method combines spectroscopic data on galaxy spatial distribution with imaging data on individual galaxy shapes.

Critical new insights

By analyzing approximately one million galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), the team successfully constrained the statistical properties of the initial fluctuations that diffuse structure formation. in the universe.

Experts have discovered a significant alignment in the orientations of the shapes of galaxies, even at distances of more than 100 million light years, suggesting correlations between distant galaxies whose formation processes seems independent.

In this research, we were able to impose constraints on the properties of the first fluctuations through statistical analysis of the shapes of many galaxies obtained from large-scale structural data, said Kurita.

There are several examples for research that uses galaxy shapes to explore the physics of the early universe, and the research process, from idea generation and development of analysis methods to actual data analysis. , a series of trial and error.

Outstanding research achievement

The study also confirmed that the observed correlations are consistent with those predicted by inflation theory and do not show a non-Gaussian component of the primordial fluctuation.

Takada, expressing pride in Kurita’s work, said: This research is the result of Toshikis doctoral dissertation. This is a remarkable research achievement in which we developed a method to validate a cosmological model using galaxy shapes and galaxy distributions, applied it to data, and then tested the physics of inflation.

The research sets the foundation for future studies to further test the theory of inflation, potentially opening up new avenues of cosmological research and deepening our understanding of the origins and evolution of the universe.

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