Astronomers make biggest dark matter map

2012-01-09 20:47

Washington - International astronomers said on Monday they have created the largest map of dark matter ever observed in the universe, using data from potent telescopes that scanned 10 million galaxies.

The mysterious substance is believed to make up about a quarter of the universe, but its nature is a puzzle because it can be detected only indirectly through the gravitational pull it exerts on visible matter.

To make the new map, astronomers studied how light emitted from galaxies is distorted as it passes by big clumps of dark matter in its travel toward Earth.

The result is an "intricate cosmic web of dark matter and galaxies that spans more than one billion light years," said the findings by astronomers at the University of British Columbia and University of Edinburgh.

"It is fascinating to be able to 'see' the dark matter using space-time distortion," said Ludovic Van Waerbeke of UBC who worked on the project, known as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Lensing Survey (CFHTLenS).

"It gives us privileged access to this mysterious mass in the universe which cannot be observed otherwise."

It looks like "a network of gigantic dense [white] and empty [dark] regions, where the largest white regions are about the size of several Earth moons on the sky," said the findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas.

The data came from the five years of images filmed as part of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey, taken from a wide field imaging camera on a massive telescope in Hawaii.

It included galaxies that were typically about six billion light years away, and captured light that was emitted when the universe was six billion years old, or about half its current age today.

"By analysing light from the distant universe, we can learn about what it has travelled through on its journey to reach us," said Catherine Heymans, a lecturer in the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics and Astronomy.

"We hope that by mapping more dark matter than has been studied before, we are a step closer to understanding this material and its relationship with the galaxies in our universe."

Previous attempts to map dark matter have largely relied on computer simulations.

Astronomers involved with the project said over the next three years they intend to image more than 10 times the area just mapped.

Read more on:    us  |  space  |  astronomy
NEXT ON NEWS24X

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
/Music
 

Road Accident Fund: #Takecharge to make roads safer

Hot on the heels of its Easter meet the #FutureYou campaign, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) will once again take its road safety message to the public - Sponsored.

 

Stay safe

Juvenile pillion riders? Play safe...
First-aid kit: What you need in YOUR car
Hey, lazy! Get outta the disabled bay!
Yaris: Perfect car for back-seat babes
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a danger of going over the top in your enthusiasm to chase your goals. It may be difficult to moderate your urges. There...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.