Chandra – Dark Matter Discovered!!!!

Chandra :: Photo Album :: 1E 0657-56 :: 21 Aug 06

1e0657.jpg

This is an update post to my post last week about the discovery of dark matter.  Apparently, it said what it purported to say … dark matter has indeed been identified through astronomical observations.  The above picture is the visual representation of what they’ve found, with false colour showing the blue and pink energetic jets, and a true colour Hubble/Magellan image behind.

The logic behind this discovery is a bit convoluted … suffice to say that since dark matter doesn’t interact with ‘normal’ or baryonic matter in any way but gravitationally, if dark and normal matter are ejected energetically to pass through another area of normal matter, the dark matter will tend to ‘speed ahead’ of the ejected normal matter, which interacts with the intervening matter in Newtonian ways like friction.  Since the dark matter doesn’t interact with the intervening normal matter in the same way, it ends up moving ahead of the normal matter.

But we can’t ‘see’ dark matter, so how was the above picture made?  The pink regions are false colour x-ray data from Chandra showing where the energetic jets of matter are located, and where the concentration of normal matter that we can see is located.  The blue region indicates the gravitational ‘footprint’ of this phenomena based on the concept of gravitational lensing.  If the majority of the matter in this phenomena were normal, we’d expect to see the blue and pink match up very closely … IE, the centre of observed matter would be roughly equivalent to the centre of the gravitational field.  But the picture clearly shows the gravitational field extending out ‘ahead’ of the normal matter, telling us that ‘dark matter’ that we can’t see is speeding ahead of the normal matter we can see.

This seems pretty clear evidence to me, and it means that cosmologists can now safely use dark matter as part of their calculations.  There will still be questions about the ratio of dark matter to normal, about what, precisely, dark matter is, and about how it fits into the cosmological scheme of things.  It likely makes the notion of a universe that will eventually contract again far more likely, but much of that will depend on the ratio that’s determined.

However, despite all the questions that remain unanswered, this discovery is HUGE, scientifically.  For ages now, there’s been a lot of question surrounding the total mass of the universe, and its been clear for sometime that the total observed mass MUST be different from the total mass … thats where the theoretical notion of ‘dark matter came from, literally, the matter we couldn’t see.  Now that the theoretical has been ‘seen’ it gives a lot more weight to explanations which made use of the theoretical concept of dark matter.  Cosmology turned a BIG corner today, IMO …

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One Response

  1. Wonderful article. Do you by chance have a link to the source that you found this information? I’ve heard that many newspapers have published articles about this in the past few days, but I have yet to read any of them.

    Though I am just speculating here, the discovery of “Dark Matter” could possibly help launch the human race into outer space. If we can manage to harness Dark Matter and Dark energy, maybe artificial gravity will be something we or our children will see.

    Very Exciting!

    Jack Sorensen

    Editor’s Note: Thanks for the excitement Jack … I tend to agree with you. As for original source, I was sure it was in the post … sadly, I was mistaken, lol. The Chandra site has the original source article, along with the picture I used, posted here … http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2006/1e0657/

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