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Web of dark matter spans space


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#1    glorybebe

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 09:31 PM

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2008
OTTAWA - Canadian and French scientists have found enormous chunks of super-mysterious dark matter stretching 270 million light-years across, and it's all invisible.

Dark matter is material that we can't touch or see with any known instrument. But it's suspected of being six times more common in the universe than regular matter, which makes up stars and air and your body.

This huge network of dark matter shows up only indirectly. Its gravity is strong enough to distort the light of entire galaxies - hundreds of millions of stars at a time.


Canadian scientists say they've got a lead on the dark matter that makes up most of the universe.

Astronomers calls this a "lensing" effect: They see the light of ordinary stars bending, as if through a lens, which tells them there's some invisible object to cause that bending. Voila - dark matter.

The size of this dark mass is mind-boggling. At 270 million light-years wide (i.e. a distance that would take a beam of light 270 million years to cross) it's 2,700 times wider than our own Milky Way galaxy.

And the Milky Way is no shrimp: It holds at least 200 billion stars.

The discovery comes from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, which sits high on an extinct volcano called Mauna Kea on Hawaii to rise above the lower atmosphere.

"We have a significant detection of many structures of that size, not (just) a single one," said Ludovic Van Waerbeke of the University of British Columbia, the lead Canadian in the group. "It's like a web. If we could see the dark matter with the eye, we would see a web of dark matter structures across the sky," each in the 270-million-light-year scale.

"Galaxies live inside of (these) structures. So those structures are much bigger than any galaxy cluster or even super-cluster that you would find in the sky."

The dark matter is a little like a cobweb, and our galaxy like a fly in it, he said.

But it's not dense. If we flew through it on a spaceship, "you wouldn't even feel anything. "The nature of dark matter is unknown, but because it is massive (i.e. it has mass) we see its gravitational effect. And that's what we detect."

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I found this very interesting, thought I would share it.

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#2    TheBlueDragon

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 10:51 PM

Wow, dark matter stretching that far and bigger than our own galaxy. That was very interesting glory!

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#3    glorybebe

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 11:11 PM

Blue Dragon on Feb 21 2008, 02:51 PM, said:

Wow, dark matter stretching that far and bigger than our own galaxy. That was very interesting glory!


Maybe by trying to understand what dark matter is exactly, could lead to all kinds of things about the universe that we never would have thought about.

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#4    TheBlueDragon

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Posted 21 February 2008 - 11:19 PM

Yeah, i mean something that is matter that large and has a gravitational pull. But can only be seen by light lensing  from the stars behind it. Like you said the things we could learn from this could be astranomical. Wow mind blowing.

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Let me guess, you picked out yet another colorful box with a crank that I'm expected to turn and turn until OOP! big shock, a jack pops out and you laugh and the kids laugh and the dog laughs and I die a little inside.

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