According to news sources, Russian scientist, Alexey Vikhlinin, used NASA's Earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory to study the formation of galactic clusters. He discovered that a dark energy acts as a counter-force to gravity, which keeps clusters of galaxies from getting too big and the universe from contracting. (What a responsibility!)
He used the Chandra telescope to observe how galactic clusters were formed and he observed 86 of these clusters, half of which were about 5.5 billion light years away. Astronomers can detect and study these clusters even at such a distance because enormous halos of hot gas surround them, generating x-ray radiation. These halos represent the bulk of the cluster’s matter. Vikhlinin concluded that there was a significant slow down in growth some 5.5 billion years ago and believes the dark energy may well be the reason for it.
In his own words:
“They're put on a diet, a permanent diet.”
Although Vikhlinin’s research is significant, the concept of dark energy is still relatively new. It first appeared a decade ago when research indicated that the universe wasn’t shrinking, as it was originally believed. Instead, it is expanding at an alarming rate. The findings proved that something had to be operating as a counterbalance to gravity and that force is dark energy.
Some scientists connect dark energy to an ultra light subatomic particle, known as ‘quintessence’ and suggest that this energy was responsible for the rapid expansion of the universe during the first trillionth of a second after the big bang.
I don’t know about where you are, but suddenly it’s getting awfully dark in here!