Research Fellows Directory
Dr Thomas Kitching
University College London
I study the Universe on the grandest scales. I am interested in questions like what is the Universe made of, and what is its ultimate fate? Cosmology is an old subject, and humans have pondered these questions from thousands of years, but it is only very recently in the last hundred years that we have been able to apply the scientific method to these deep questions.
?What we have discovered is stranger than we imagined, and we find ourselves now in a position where we know, for certain, that we do not know anything about what the Universe is made of!??Over 95% of the matter in the Universe is made of a transparent material that surrounds and infuses every part of the cosmos. This transparent material has been given a mysterious name “dark matter”. No one knows what dark matter is. ?Dark matter does not interact with ordinary matter – that you and me are made of – but we know it is there because we can measure its effect on light. Consider a piece of glass, which is also a transparent: you cannot see glass itself but you know it is there because it lenses the background light. In a similar way this dark matter lenses background light from distant galaxies and we can detect its presence. This is an effect called gravitational lensing and was predicted by Einstein 100 years ago. I use this method today, using the world’s largest telescopes, to make dark matter maps of the Universe.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)