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Imaging Dark Matter Through Gravitational Lensing May Help In Studying Galaxies, According To Scientists

First Posted: Apr 17, 2017 05:00 AM EDT
Imaging Dark Matter Through Gravitational Lensing May Help In Studying Galaxies
For the first time, scientists managed to image intergalactic dark matter through gravitational lensing.
(Photo : ModernGalaxy/YouTube screenshot)

Scientists from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, managed to deduce a composite image of intergalactic dark matter web that substantiates the previously doubtful notion of the existence of dark matter. The extensively large composite image, which is represented with the help of a bar scale of 0-50 million light-years, was created with the help of several images captured by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

Dark matter and dark energy are among the most elusive physical entities that people know very less about. The exact role of dark energy in determining the existence of the universe remain ambiguous till date. Though scientists have proposed that almost 25 percent of the universe is composed of dark matter, the exact structure of the intergalactic dark matter could not be predicted. This was mainly attributed to the fact that dark matter neither absorbs light nor does it reflect it, i.e., it is virtually undetectable.

Therefore, researchers tried to detect its presence through gravity, a method termed as gravitational lensing. The researchers studied 23,000 pairs of galaxies before they created the composite image of the connecting web of dark matter. The study findings and the image were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

According to the Science Recorder, the image shows how galaxies are held together by a web of dark matter filaments. The image is quite possibly the only existing proof of the hypothesis that the concentration of dark matter is nearly five times the concentration of normal matter. It is proposed that these recent revelations could also help astronomers in studying distant galaxies and unearth hitherto unknown facts about the formation and expansion of the universe.

Perfscience reported that on the flipside, some scientists including Erik Verlinde, physicist from the University of Amsterdam, and Margot Brouwer from the Leiden Observatory, Netherlands, believe that the composite image of dark matter may not be of substantial help in future studies on stars and galaxies. These scientists are of the opinion that unlike the data obtained from Verlinde's prediction, the said study has many free parameters that help it fit in the extant data models. This not only questions the fidelity of the data but also mitigates its future applications.

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