The hunt for dark matter: NASA’s Hubble, Chandra uncover new clues

Lindsey Caldwell - Mar 27, 2015
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The hunt for dark matter: NASA’s Hubble, Chandra uncover new clues

Astronomers have uncovered new clues about the nature of mysterious dark matter using NASA‘s Hubble telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The newest discovery is that dark matter doesn’t decelerate when it collides against other dark matter. Previous theories held dark matter to be more interactive. If this new information is correct, it could eliminate some previous theories about the behavior of dark matter. For example: because dark matter doesn’t slow down when it collides with itself, theories relying on strong friction are out the window.

Dark matter is a hypothetical type of matter that can only be observed through its effects on its surroundings. What we do know about dark matter is that it doesn’t absorb, reflect, or emit light, and it constitutes most of the universe’s mass.

Specified in the research paper published today in the journal, Science, scientists measured space collisions within galaxy clusters, which are pictured above. Hubble was able to map the post-collision distributions. By tracing the effect of gravitational lensing, astronomers were able to pinpoint the dark matter. Researchers then used the Chandra X-ray Observatory to track x-ray emissions from the gas clouds.

Stephen Hawking proclaimed dark matter as the “missing link in cosmology,” without understanding much about its properties. Yet, its existence is predicted by different mathematical models. Even astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “we haven’t a clue” when it comes to dark matter. Being a layman, I tend to agree with him because I certainly don’t have a clue. Yet, I continue to look forward to NASA’s latest discoveries in elusive dark matter.

Source: NASA


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