A team of Yale researchers developed the most accurate map of the elusive dark matter. As it is, scientists everywhere will have access to a precise highly detailed inventory of such matter. One that one day may potentially help explain these elusive particles.
The term ‘dark matter’ refers to an unidentified type of matter. This is distinct from baryonic or ordinary matter. It is also distinct from neutrinos or dark energy. This type of matter received its named based on its properties. More exactly, this does not interact or emit light or any type of electromagnetic radiation.
As such, it is invisible to the whole electromagnetic spectrum. Dark matter was never directly observed. However, a number of factors revealed its existence and also its properties. And a newly developed map may lead to some new discoveries on the matter.
This map is the work of an international team of Yale researchers. They were led by Priyamvada Natarajan, a Yale astrophysicist. Research and development results were released last month.
The resulting map was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal. A research paper, published alongside it, was titled accordingly. “Mapping substructures in the HST Frontier Fields cluster lenses and in cosmological simulations”.
The dark matter map was developed based on data collected telescope observations. More exactly, the researchers used data from the Hubble Telescope Frontier Fields. This offered information on a galaxy clusters trio.
These were noted to act as a sort of cosmic magnifying glasses. Such a phenomenon is called gravitational lensing. This property helped astronomers peer into more distant and older part of the universe.
As the researchers studied the Hubble data, they used the galaxy trio when creating their map. With help from the gravitational lensing, they were able to create a highly accurate map. One that includes exquisite details of the dark matter granularity from within the clusters.
According to Natarajan, the team mapped all the dark matter clumps detected in the Hubble data. Through this, they were able to create the ‘most detailed yet’ topological map of this dark matter landscape.
As pointed out by the researchers, this map offers a precise cosmic inventory. One that addresses the dark matter and its potential amount and distribution. However, research has yet to determine the elusive particle in itself. Scientists everywhere are trying to identify this particle.
Nonetheless, the map closely matches the available computer simulations of cold dark matter. These were predicted theoretically. As such, the agreement between itself and the map is quite notable. Especially so as most of the evidence on the existence of dark matter are still indirect.
Cold dark matter is considered to move slower than the speed of light. Warm such matter, in contrast, is considered to move faster than light.
The researchers used the Illustris suite in creating the map. This is a high-resolution simulation program. It mimics the universe’s structure formations in accordance with the currently accepted theories.
The dark matter map was developed with help from grants offered by multiple institutions. It was supported by the National Science Foundation, for example. And also by NASA through the Space Telescope Institute HST Frontier Fields initiative.
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