Scientists have developed and released the first ever composite photo of dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up an estimated 25 percent of the universe.
"For decades, researchers have been predicting the existence of dark-matter filaments between galaxies that act like a web-like superstructure connecting galaxies together," said Mike Hudson, a professor of astronomy at the University of Waterloo. "This image moves us beyond predictions to something we can see and measure."
Dark matter, which apparently looks at least a little like a ghost face, doesn't absorb or reflect light, which makes it impossible to spot through traditional means. The only way to detect it is through gravity.
Hudson and co-author Seth Epps, a former graduate student at the University of Waterloo, used a technique called weak gravitational lensing. This effect causes our view of distant galaxies to warp slightly under the influence of an unseen mass such as a planet, a black hole, or in this case, dark matter.
With access to the results of a multi-year sky survey from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope located in Waimea, Hawaii, the pair used weak gravitational lensing and combined images from 23,000 galaxy pairs located 4.5 billion light-years away.
"By using this technique, we're not only to able to see that these dark matter filaments in the universe exist, we're able to see the extent to which these filaments connect galaxies together," said Epps. Hopefully, a visual clue will help the scientists looking for dark matter in that abandoned gold mine.
Source: University of Waterloo
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