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The role of dark matter in galaxy formation

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Astronomers use supercomputer to explore role of dark matter in galaxy formation

From Earth, observers use telescopes to look and learn about the distant luminous spheres. But the telescope often isn't the only instrument used. Karl Gebhardt, professor of astrophysics at The University of Texas at Austin and one of the principal investigators for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) project, makes revolutionary discoveries about dark matter by combining deep-space observations with the powerful Lonestar supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).

Dark matter exerts a gravitational pull on matter in a galaxy, including stars, which orbit the center of the galaxy. Since dark matter neither emits nor absorbs light or other electromagnetic radiation, it cannot be seen directly with telescopes. However, through indirect evidence, scientists estimate that dark matter constitutes 83% of the matter in the universe and 23% of the mass-energy.

This represents a significant portion of the universe. For that reason, astronomers like Gebhardt feel compelled to learn more about dark matter, its influences on the formation of galaxies, and its effects on the structure of the cosmos.

"We believe dark matter is a new type of particle that has yet to be discovered," Gebhardt said. "In a lot of our experiments, we hone in on it, even though we don't know its nature yet."

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The $25M upgrade of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope in TX has achieved first light and is almost ready to begin the HETDEX experiment mentioned above.

Great article with lot's of info on what the upgrades were and what HETDEX teams hopes to accomplish. http://earthsky.org/...a3e57-394012957

Edited by Merc14

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