MOST DETAILED MAP OF DARK MATTER CREATED
It’s dark matter as we’ve never seen it before: a team from Yale University has put together one of the highest resolution maps of the elusive particles by using images from the Hubble Space Telescope to study three clusters of galaxies.
Dark matter is a theorised substance that doesn’t reflect or absorb light and is thought to comprise 80 per cent of the matter in the Universe. It can only be detected indirectly through its gravitational effects.
Dark matter particles are thought to provide the unseen mass that is responsible for a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, by bending light originating from distant galaxies. This light bending produces distortions in the shapes of galaxies viewed through the ‘lens’. The team decoded these distortions to create the map of dark matter.
“With the data of these three lensing clusters we have successfully mapped the granularity of dark matter within the clusters in exquisite detail,” said researcher Prof Priyamvada Natarajan. “We have mapped all of the clumps of dark matter that the data permit us to detect, and have produced the most detailed topological map of the dark matter landscape to date.”
They found that the map closely matches computer simulations of dark matter theoretically predicted by the cold dark matter model – dark matter that moves slowly compared to the speed of light.
This 3D visualisation shows dark matter distributions in one galaxy cluster