Feeds

The plane story of galactic clusters

Dark matter ‘filaments’ mapped

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Why are galaxies where they are? Astronomers have turned up a hint at the way dark matter affects the large-scale structure of the universe, with observations discovering that the Milky Way and nearby galactic clusters are arranged along a plane.

The researchers, from the Australian National University, believe the arrangement of galaxies and globular clusters hints at large-scale structures based on vast filaments of dark matter.

According to lead researcher Stefan Keller of the ANU, the structures are revealed by the spatial distribution of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies, such as the Magellanic Clouds.

Galaxies like beads on a string, say ANU astronomers.

Image: Michael Boylan-Kolchin, University of California Irvine

Rather than being randomly distributed, the paper that Keller has co-authored with Dougal Mackay and Gary Da Costa has found a planar distribution that suggests the galaxies are connected by something with sufficient gravity to maintain that structure.

Hence the suggestion that the large-scale structure is evidence of dark matter.

Keller likens the galactic structures as “beads on a string”, telling The Register that the existence of dark matter filaments would help explain why the Magellanic Clouds are located perpendicular to the plane of the Milky Way’s disk, and are feeding matter into our galaxy.

“The Magellanic Clouds, which are satellites of the Milky Way, are the source of gas that is raining down on the Milky Way and is added, slowly, to the Milky Way’s disk,” he explained.

If you model our galaxy without taking into account the possible existence of dark matter filaments, he said, the models predict a fatter disk than actually exists.

“Matter, both dark and ordinary, is drawn along these filaments to the largest local mass distribution,” he said – and in the case of his observations, that is the Milky Way, which is steadily cannibalizing the Magellanic Clouds.

Of course, the problem remains of identifying exactly what those dark matter filaments are. “We suspect that it is a weakly interacting massive particle,” he said, but noted that early results from the Large Hadron Collider “don’t look good” for these “WIMPs”. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.