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article imageHubble images reveal the distribution of dark matter

By Tim Sandle     Dec 28, 2018 in Science
Studying faint starlight in Hubble telescope images, astronomers have revealed the distribution of dark matter in parts our galaxy and neighboring galaxies. The novel method can be used to explore the ultimate nature of dark matter.
Dark matter, the mysterious substance believed to comprise a quarter of our Universe, is spread out relatively smoothly the new research finds. This has arisen through a new imaging process that enables astronomers to 'see' dark matter. For this the scientists deployed the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and then used a new method to detect dark matter in galaxy clusters.
Dark matter is a form of matter that represents around a quarter of the total energy density of the universe. The majority of dark matter is thought to be composed of some as-yet undiscovered subatomic particles. Unlike normal matter, dark matter does not interact with the electromagnetic force. This means it does not absorb, reflect or emit light, making it extremely hard to detect.
According to Dr. Mireia Montes, who led the research: "We have found a way to 'see' dark matter...We have found that very faint light in galaxy clusters, the intracluster light, maps how dark matter is distributed."
The researchers discovered how intracluster light is aligned with the dark matter, allowing them to trace the distribution of dark matter more accurately than any other method relying on luminous tracers used so far.
The new research has been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in a paper called "Intracluster light: a luminous tracer for dark matter in clusters of galaxies."
For further dark matter news, see "Essential Science: Map of universe's dark matter produced". Here Digital Journal reported how scientists have created the most detailed map ever of the dark matter in our universe. The map takes in some 26 million galaxies, in the biggest study of dark matter ever undertaken, and it was based on digital technology.
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