University of Iowa

In the news: UI physicist hunts for mysterious force behind universe’s expansion

February 7th, 2019
Postdoctoral researcher Spyridon Argyropoulos is hot on the trail of dark energy, the mysterious force thought to be behind the universe’s accelerated expansion. He’s leading particle-collision experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland estab

Postdoctoral researcher Spyridon Argyropoulos is hot on the trail of dark energy, the mysterious force thought to be behind the universe’s accelerated expansion. He’s leading particle-collision experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland establishing boundaries for where dark energy might be found. Submitted photo

By Richard C. Lewis, Iowa Now

An international scientific group led by the University of Iowa is trying to solve one of the biggest mysteries in cosmology: why the universe’s expansion is accelerating.

Just two decades ago, scientists realized the universe was growing faster over time rather than at a constant rate. The force assumed to be behind that expansion is called dark energy.

The realization that dark energy is responsible for the universe’s growth came from astronomical observations. But more information is needed to understand what dark energy is.

Spyridon Argyropoulos, a postdoctoral researcher in the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy, showed that scientists can search for dark energy using particle detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s foremost particle collider, located near Geneva, Switzerland. Working with the ATLAS detector collaboration in collision experiments at the LHC, Argyropoulos has established some boundaries, or constraints, for how physicists might find dark energy.

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