A team of researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have created one of the highest-resolution 3D maps of the dark matter. The discovery offers detailed evidences for the existence of the elusive particles believed to make up about 80% of the universe. It is also believed to be the most accurate map of the dark matter ever created.
Scientists believe that the dark matter, theorized as unseen particles that neither reflect nor absorb light, but are able to exert gravity may comprise 80% of the matter in the universe. Dark matter particles are thought to provide the unseen mass that is responsible for gravitational lensing, by bending light from the distant galaxies.
According to the researchers, the dark matter map is derived from Hubble Space Telescope Frontier Fields data of a trio of galaxy clusters that act as cosmic magnifying glasses to peer into older, more distant parts of the universe, a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. The high-resolution 3D visualization is a topographical map of the dark matter landscape, the researchers say. “With the data of these three lensing clusters we have successfully mapped the granularity of dark matter within the clusters in exquisite detail…we have mapped all of the clumps of dark matter that the data permit us to detect, and have produced the most detailed topological map of the dark matter landscape to date”, says Priyamvada Natarajan, astrophysicist at the Yale University in the US. Experiments at Yale and elsewhere are attempting to identify the dark matter particle; the leading candidates such as the axions and neutralinos. The Dark matter may explain the very nature of how galaxies are formed and how the universe is structured.
The findings of the research appear in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.