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Mar 04, 2017 07:52 AM EST

Yale Researchers Maps Dark Matter; Here's What They Discovered

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A team led by Yale University researchers has been able to create one of the highest-resolution maps of dark matter. This is a breakthrough as it has been difficult to directly observe dark matter since its existence and properties are traditionally inferred from gravitational effects like the motions of visible matter and gravitational lensing, among others.

In its official website, Yale announced that the dark matter map is derived from the Hubble Space Telescope Frontier Fields data, specifically on a trio of galaxy clusters that serve as cosmic magnifying glasses. This gives scientists a glimpse into older, more distant parts of the universe - known as gravitational lensing.

Priyamvada Natarajan, an astrophysicist from Yale, led an international team of researchers as they investigated the Hubble images. Natarajan said that they were able to successfully map the "granularity of dark matter" using the data of the three lensing clusters.

They mapped all of the clumps of dark matter that the data allowed them to detect. With this, they were able to produce the most detailed topological map of the dark matter landscape thus far.

The dark matter map was published in the journal "Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society." Other researchers who participated in the study were Urmila Chadayammuri, Mathilde Jauzac, Johan Richard, Jean-Paul Kneib, Harald Ebeling, Fangzhou Jiang, Frank van den Bosch, Marceau Limousin, Eric Jullo, Hakim Atek, Annalisa Pillepich, Cristina Popa, Federico Marinacci, Lars Hernquist, Massimo Meneghetti and Mark Vogelsberger.

Dark matter is believed to be unseen particles that do not reflect nor absorb light. It is, however, able to exert gravity and may make up 80 percent of the matter in the universe. Dark matter could explain the nature of the creation of galaxies and the structure of the universe.

According to UPI, scientists believe that dark matter's gravitational pull plays a significant role in gravitational lensing, the bending of distant light around intermediary galaxies and galactic clusters.

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