Basic Astronomy

Most detailed dark matter map is generated using Hubble Space Telescope

Dark matter are matter which can not be visible and which are inferred to exist from gravitational effects on visible matter and background radiation. Study of dark matter interest astronomer for more than a decade.

Abell 1689
(Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Coe (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, and Space Telescope Science Institute), N. Benitez (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain), T. Broadhurst (University of the Basque Country, Spain), and H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University))

Using Advanced Camera for Surveys onboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, a group of astronomer led by Dan Coe at JPL able to make most detailed map of dark matter. They study a massive galaxy cluster called Abell 1689 which is located 2.2 billion light year far from us. The cluster was used as gravitational lens which bended and amplified light coming from distant galaxies behind it. The clusters gravity is mostly coming from dark matter. By studying distorted image of the background galaxy, astronomer make detailed map of dark matter distribution in the cluster. Studying this high-resolution dark matter distribution, scientist confirm previous results showing that the core of Abell 1689 is much denser in dark matter than expected for a cluster of its size.

They also found that galaxy clusters may have formed earlier than expected, before the push of dark energy slowed down their growth.

This new map will also provide clues about solving nature of dark energy and its role in the evolution of Universe.

For more information, see hubblesite.

(28 Nov 2010)

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