Invisible, cold dark matter plays a major role in the evolution of galaxies, according to modern cosmological theory. The most advanced simulations of cosmic evolution show stringy tendrils of mass — dark matter — connecting giant clusters of galaxies via a vast cosmic web. Now for the first time, astronomers have been able to detect one of these filaments, sussing out its location by watching it warp light.
In a new paper, Jörg Dietrich and colleagues report a dark matter filament attaching the Abell 222-223 supercluster system. The team used the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea to observe the galaxy clusters, located 2.7 billion light years away in the Cetus constellation. Any light coming toward Earth from behind this supercluster will be warped and magnified by its mass, a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. From our perspective, distant galaxies look like distorted funhouse-mirror smears.
In this new study, Dietrich and colleagues noticed that the cluster's observable mass, including stars and hot X-ray-emitting gases, could not account for all this lensing — it was only about 9 percent. Something else with a lot of mass must also be in the way. The only possible explanation is dark matter, which is so called because we can't see it.
By examining the lensing, which is weak compared to other massive systems, the team was able to figure out the dark matter filament's location and precise shape. This was only possible because of the way Abell 222 and 223 are arranged on the sky relative to Earth — they look close together from our perspective, allowing a straight-on view. Calculating the location of all the cluster's mass, there's a clear bridge connecting Abell 222 and 223.
This is a big breakthrough for cosmology, because it strengthens the case for dark matter's existence. It also shows that it may be possible to determine exactly where it is and how it's arranged.
The paper appears in today's issue of Nature.
The science of mapping nothing and getting paid for it, simply because all my other scientific peers appreciate the fact it makes their equations work with this invisiable vairable.
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
Dark matter is the ghost in the computer. It's a way to cheat around the laws of physics...... being that no matter how complex the laws you believe you've discovered are it doesn't change the fact that in theory existence should be an impossibility. Whether you believe existence bursted forth out of nothingness, (yay magic) or you believe the universe has always been and just keeps recycling itself (the equivalent of a perpetual motion machine popping out of nowhere.) (Also magic) It doesn't explain how an impossible pissed off clump of matter is bothered by this. The problem we have is that there's a problem. Dark matter is the invisible skeleton built to hold up this imaginary universe.
I have been as ambivalent about dark matter (and dark energy) as anybody, because you can tell it is just an attempt to explain observations that otherwise make no sense. But this is how science works. There are a whole lot of possible explanations, but now this report is a strong indication that dark matter is real, it can be observed (indirectly) and its shape mapped (some of it anyway). Further study will determine more of its characteristics. Eventually we may be able to do something useful with it.
So anyone up for creating slip stream using the filaments in dark matter to travel...Andromeda style or Star Trek....
"Make it so"
Nothing doesn't exist. There is always something, at least according to Physicists. If there is no matter, there is still something in it's place. It's been theorized that there were particles buzzing around before the big bang occurred. According to quantum theory, empty space contains energy and virtual particles that pop into and out of existence. Our perception of nothing is simply our perception.
Recently a thorough study of our galaxy included gases too sparse to image normally, accounting for all the mass attributed to 'dark matter'. Would it surprise anyone if there were filaments of sparse gas between the two galaxies?
Something caused the big bang, that existed before. It expanded, making 'space' as it went, that was far from 'empty'.
With NASA proving "Space/Time" was a tangible component, I'm still surprised that "dark" anything is being sought after only to explain the holes (no pun intended) in the current theories.
If the Earth's mass, on a galactic scale being minute, can bend space/time enough to be measured, why is it so hard to believe that these massive groupings of mass can collectively bend space/time around them thus causing these "gaps". Think of it like a sheet of rubber, the more marbles or balls or items you place on it, the more those dimples or distortions in space/time become noticeable, and since distortion in the fabric of space/time will bend/lens light.... doesn't that answer the problem? Occam's Razor people...
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
I've always thought it would come to either matter-antimatter creating something on the antimatter side like what they want to call dark matter, or that it's just dust and gases. This still doesn't convince me...gotta do more digging. Even with the nature of gravity in a supernova to black hole scenario, crap gets thrown back out. And we have colliding or merged galaxies in the cosmic neighborhood. Could generate a lot of dust and gases in various places.
This talk of gas and or gravitational bending from the large masses does not address the single most important fact about "dark Energy" - that galaxies and large masses are not just moving apart casually, they are accelerating apart. Like they are under thrust or something.
But fear not, I have a plausible answer that addresses all the behavior and does not rely on some new form of matter. Ready?
Vacuum. Now, I am not a bible thumper, but genesis is actually scientifically accurate (as long as you use star epochs as the days - I recommend checking out the first few days in it and seeing if you do not agree). But anyway, the bible says that in the beginning there was nothing.
If you had a big bang of matter explode into a complete and total vacuum (meaning there was not even an inch of space - a total material vacuum, literally null), then the effect it would have would be to cause all that matter to accelerate into the void in an attempt to reach balance - which it never would, cause nothing doesn't have edges nor dimensions.
Again, like I said, I'm no bible thumper (you can't be a truth seeker and still be a bible thumper - the two are pretty much mutually exclusive) - but matter expanding into a vacuum should cause the type of behavior we are seeing, without inventing some new type of voodoo particles.
And regarding particles - why are we still looking for gravitons? Does anyone have a reasonable answer - I thought we agreed that gravity is a result of bent space, therefore it is not transmitted across distances - it is the distances.
Comments are always welcome!