Dark Matter Is More Smoothly Distributed Across Space Than Previously Thought

Posted: Dec 8 2016, 6:04am CST | by , Updated: Dec 8 2016, 6:09am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Dark Matter is More Smoothly Distributed across Space than Previously Thought
The map of dark matter in the universe obtained from KiDS survey. Credit: Kilo-Degree Survey Collaboration/H. Hildebrandt & B. Giblin/ESO
 

The latest analysis sheds more light into the distribution of dark matter in the universe

One of the biggest mysteries of the science is the dark matter that makes up most of the universe.

The dark matter is not visible to our eyes and telescopes because it does not absorb, reflect or emit light, making it extremely hard to spot. However, researchers know it exists. They have been able to infer the existence of dark matter through the gravitational effect it seems to have on ordinary visible matter like stars and galaxies.

Some theories suggest that dark matter lumped together over time and its distribution is also not uniform. The invisible dark matter is generally denser in the centers of the galaxies than their outer edges. A latest research, however, contradicts these existing theories. 

In the latest study, an international team of researchers looked at the data from the Kilo Degree Survey (KiDS) to study how the light from about 15 million distant galaxies was affected by the gravitational influence of dark matter, making the outcome applicable to the wider scales in the Universe. 

The survey consists of a huge patch of sky, covering an area as big as 2,200 full moons can have combined and containing million of galaxies. This is the largest total area of the sky ever to be mapped with the improved imaging technology to date, so it makes it possible for the researchers to carry out one of the most precise measurements ever made of a phenomenon known as cosmic shear. 

Cosmic shear is the distortion of the images of the distant galaxies due to weak gravitational lensing by the larger structures in the universe and it has been considered a powerful tool to understand the nature of the dark matter.

The processed images from the Kilo Degree Survey ensured that the weak cosmic shear signal prevailing in the universe is strong enough to be measured and can be used to map the distribution of the gravitating matter. Latest images suggest that dark matter is less denser and more evenly throughout the space than expected.

The findings appear to be in disagreement with earlier results from the Planck satellite. Launched by European Space Agencies, the Plank space observatory investigates the fundamental properties of the universe. 

“This latest result indicates that dark matter in the cosmic web, which accounts for about one-quarter of the content of the Universe, is less clumpy than we previously believed.” Study researcher Massimo Viola from the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands said in a statement.

The analysis of KiDs is a major step but researchers expect that the future telescopes will take more wider and deeper surveys of the universe and help better understand the phenomenon called dark matter.

The co-leader of the study, Catherine Heymans of the University of Edinburgh says. “Unraveling what has happened since the Big Bang is a complex challenge, but by continuing to study the distant skies, we can build a picture of how our modern Universe has evolved.”

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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