Nepal | September 25, 2020

Scientists confounded by new findings on universe’s mysterious dark matter

Reuters
Share Now:

WASHINGTON: Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies including our own Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature.

Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed.

An undated NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the massive galaxy cluster MACSJ 1206. Photo: NASA/ESA/G. Caminha (University of Groningen), M. Meneghetti (Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science of Bologna), P. Natarajan (Yale University)/The CLASH team and M. Kornmesser/ESA/Hubble/Handout via Reuters

“Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a co-author of the study published in the journal Science, said on Friday.

Dark matter is the invisible glue that holds stars together inside a galaxy. It also creates an invisible scaffold that enables galaxies to form clusters. But it has very peculiar properties. It does not emit, absorb or reflect light and does not interact with any known particles.

The bulk of the matter in the universe, about 96%, is thought to be dark matter, with ordinary matter – the visible stuff that makes up stars, planets and people – a mere 4%.

Dark matter’s presence is known only through its gravitational pull on visible matter in space. It differs from the similarly enigmatic and unseen dark energy, which is considered a property of space and is driving the universe’s accelerated expansion. Dark energy is repulsive. Dark matter attracts through gravity.

The new study involved observations from the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.

When the light from distant sources like faraway galaxies travels through matter such as another galaxy or a cluster of them, the light is deflected and bends – a phenomenon called “gravitational lensing,” said astrophysicist and study lead author Massimo Meneghetti of the Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science in Bologna and National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy.

The new observations showed that gravitational lensing effects produced by galaxies residing inside the huge galaxy clusters were far stronger than current dark matter theory envisioned, suggesting an unexpectedly large concentration of dark matter in these galaxies.

“This is quite surprising,” Meneghetti said.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Chinese encroachment in Humla? China denies it, so does MoFA

Buildings have been built at a distance of around two kilometres from the border in Lapcha Limi area of Namkha Rural Municipality in Humla: NC lawmaker Rangamati Shahi KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 23 China has allegedly built at least nine buildings on Nepali land near Nepal-China border in Humla distri Read More...

Supreme Court tells government not to induct Gautam in Cabinet

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 23 The Supreme Court today ordered the government not to induct Bamdev Gautam in the Cabinet or assign him any such post till the apex court issued another order in the case. Gautam was recently nominated to the National Assembly by the president on the government’s recommend Read More...

Overnight wait for PCR test for scores

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 23 Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital at Teku has been seeing a surge in the number of people visiting the hospital for polymerase chain reaction test. The number of people visiting the hospital for the tests has drastically increased after the government al Read More...

Surge in covid patients requiring ventilator support across Nepal

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 23 There has been a steady rise in the number of patients, who need ventilator support and intensive care in the course of treatment of the coronavirus disease, across the country. According to the Ministry of Health and Population, 43 persons have been given ventilator ca Read More...

Mountaineer Ang Rita Sherpa cremated

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 23 Hundreds of government officials, mountaineers, fellow Sherpa guides and supporters gathered in Nepal today to mourn the veteran guide who scaled Mount Everest 10 times without supplimentary oxygen. The body of Ang Rita was cremated today according to Buddhist ritua Read More...

Rainfall likely to continue for three more days

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 23 The Meteorological Forecasting Division has predicted moderate to heavy rainfall with thunder and lightning throughout the country till Saturday. “A low-pressure area is now located over Chhattisgarh state of India and is advancing to the west and north-west of Nepal, Read More...

Government issues procedure to establish information, record centre at local levels

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 23 The Government of Nepal has issued ‘Procedure on Establishment and Operation of Information and Records Centre’ for local levels. The procedure will come into effect after it is passed by the executive of the concerned local unit. It aims to make the service deliver Read More...

Six cops to face music

RAUTAHAT, SEPTEMBER 23 The probe committee formed to launch an inquiry into the death of Bijaya Ram of Garuda Municipality, Rautahat, has recommended action against six policemen, including SP Rabiraj Khadka. Police had arrested Bijaya and six others on August 16 in connection with the murder Read More...