Feeds

Astronomers map largest ever zone of dark matter

MegaCam maps 10 million galaxies

High performance access to file storage

An international research team has presented the largest ever map of dark matter at the 219th American Astronomical Society conference in Austin, Texas.

The team used a 340 megapixel camera, dubbed MegaCam, to take one degree by one degree shots for five years from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHC) on Mauna Kea mountain in Hawaii. Over 10 million galaxies were imaged, typically around six billion light years away, and the results examined to assess the effect of gravitational distortion on the distant light caused by dark matter.

Massive dark matter map

Where there's galaxies, then there's dark matter (Credit: Van Waerbeke, Heymans, and CFHTLens collaboration)

"By analysing light from the distant Universe, we can learn about what it has travelled through on its journey to reach us,” said Dr Catherine Heymans, a Lecturer in the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics and Astronomy, in a statement. “We hope that by mapping more dark matter than has been studied before, we are a step closer to understanding this material and its relationship with the galaxies in our Universe."

The map shows largely what you’d expect, given the current state of theoretical thinking about dark matter. The concentrations are heaviest around galactic clusters and fade to almost nothing in the deeper reaches of empty space.

Dark matter map

White areas show dense clumps of dark matter (Credit: Van Waerbeke, Heymans, and CFHTLens collaboration)

"It is fascinating to be able to 'see' the dark matter using space-time distortion. It gives us privileged access to this mysterious mass in the Universe which cannot be observed otherwise,” said Professor Ludovic Van Waerbeke, from the University of British Columbia. “Knowing how dark matter is distributed is the very first step towards understanding its nature and how it fits within our current knowledge of physics."

The team now plans to map ten times the current area using the Very Large Telescope's (VLT) Survey Telescope in Chile. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.