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First-Ever Image Of Dark Matter Web Revealed!

First Posted: Apr 13, 2017 06:38 AM EDT
Dark Matter Web
By combining images of distant galaxies located 4.5 billion light-years away, researchers now have photographic evidence of dark matter web that links galaxies together. (Image used for representation only, for actual image see Twitter link.)
(Photo : #Civil Disturbia/YouTube screenshot)

The first image of a dark matter web that connects galaxies located billions of light-years away has been recently released. The composite image, which combines a number of individual images, confirms predictions that galaxies are connected by giant cosmic webs of dark matter that has remained unobservable until now.

"The locations of bright galaxies are shown by the white areas and the presence of a dark matter web tying the galaxies is shown in red." According to a Phys.org report, researchers from Canada’s University of Waterloo in Ontario have been able to tease the elusive web of dark matter in the cosmos by tracing a weak gravitational lensing. In general, astronomers use gravitational lensing events to observe the light from distant galaxies because massive galactic structures warp the beams. However, the gravity of smaller cosmic objects, including dark matter strands, can also bend light.

Incidentally, dark matter is described as an elusive substance that makes up a quarter or 25 percent of the universe. The mysterious dark matter does not shine, reflect or absorb light -- qualities that have made the substance largely undetectable except through gravity.

"For decades, researchers have been predicting the existence of dark-matter filaments between galaxies that act like a web-like superstructure connecting galaxies together," astronomy profession and study researcher Mike Hudson said in a news release. "This image moves us beyond predictions to something we can see and measure."

The team of astronomers surveyed 23,000 galaxy pairs located 4.5 billion light-years away, with the help of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. Subsequently, the researchers teased subtle warping among the galactic light. A composite image of the galactic pairs showed the weak gravitational lensing and the filaments of dark matter filaments between the galaxies.

The researchers have also stated that not only can they see that dark matter filaments exist in the universe but that they can also see the extent to which these filaments tie galaxies together. The study has been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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