Galactic Collision Gives Researchers a Glimpse of Dark Matter

By Eliza Strickland | August 28, 2008 8:30 am

dark matter cloudsThe cosmic collision of two galaxy clusters has given astronomers a clearer look at the mysterious substance known as dark matter. Researchers say when the two clusters crashed into each other, the dark matter from each cluster [appeared] to pass through the cosmic mess unscathed, leaving ordinary matter behind in the galactic pileup []. Using data from NASA‘s Hubble and Chandra space telescopes, astronomers were able to produce an image showing clouds of dark matter, colored blue, on either side of the impact site.

Dark matter, mysterious stuff that exerts a gravitational force on other matter, was originally proposed to explain what holds spinning galaxies, like the Milky Way, together. Observations suggest it outweighs ordinary matter by a factor of about 6 to 1. But no one knows what it is made of, and normally dark matter and ordinary matter are too well mixed to observe the dark matter independently [New Scientist].

The new study, which will be published in a future issue of the Astrophysical Journal [subscription required], suggests that the galaxy clusters collectively known as MACS J0025 were moving at a speed of millions of miles per hour when they collided. In the melee, hot gas from each cluster collided and slowed down, but the dark matter did not. That separation provides evidence to support the view that dark-matter particles interact with each other only very weakly or not at all, apart from the pull of gravity [MSNBC].

While researchers can use the new data to study how dark matter interacts, it won’t give them any insight into the substance’s composition, which looms as one of the biggest unanswered questions in astrophysics. Some scientists have hypothesized that dark matter is composed of exotic subatomic particles that they call weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), but these oddities have never yet been detected.

Image: X-ray(NASA/CXC/Stanford/S.Allen); Optical/Lensing(NASA/STScI/UC Santa Barbara/M.Bradac)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math, Space
  • Randall Laraway

    It is of no real surprise that mankind has yet to figure out exactly what is dark matter. Hey people we can’t possibly know everything there is to know, otherwise it would blow our minds. Ever since first hearing of this dark matter, it’s like I’ve known from the outset of the beginning info given us by scientists what dark matter is. It is written that God is Spirit and that no man has ever seen HIM. Oh, I know, some of you aren’t in agreement with the mixture of Science and religious beliefs.
    However, I’m remminded of a certain quote: “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind” by your good friend and mine: Albert Einstein. So then, speaking of Jesus Christ, the authority of the Bible never fails in proclaiming the truth. The Scripture says,”by God’s Son through WHOM HE made the universe…the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of HIS BEING, SUSTAINING ALL THINGS BY HIS powerful WORD” (Hebrews 1:1-3). Now if we think about this thing called dark matter which is an “invisible force” that holds stars and galaxies in place…per Scripture, we have the answer before us. It just takes a simple faith to receive the truth. And wbo knows, maybe some day we will get to ride on a beam of light upon either our passing or when the Lord returns whichever happens first. WOW! Now that will be something to experience!

  • Mr. Gently

    Your argument is moot.
    Stop rambling.

  • John

    All science is based on theory and all religion is based on faith. If you have faith to believe in science than logically you should have faith to believe in religion. After all, religion came first and is believe by 95% of the worlds population. Mixing science and religion is common practice. I believe in God, I despise religion, and I believe scientists have done their best to logically explain the world. The problem is, the world is not logical and neither are humans. Logically explaining something that is not affected or apply logic is insane, this is where God fits in. God is the LOGICAL explanation for the things that cannot be explained by mere logic. Try not to get lost in that twist of words. Basically what I am saying is that without God the universe cannot be explained. Scientists will try but to no avail because not everything is logical. For instance, where did matter come from? If the universe was created by a big explosion, what caused the explosion? This is a question you will never have answered by mere science because there is only one answer, God. Seeing how God does not fit into what scientists believe, it will be an answer that will go without explanation until your eyes are revealed to the truth.

    God said that he would send his only begotten Son and whomever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3-16

    Fact- Jesus Christ existed.
    Faith, you can believe what he said or not believe what he said, your choice.

  • art

    “Logically explaining something that is not affected or apply logic is insane, this is where God fits in. God is the LOGICAL explanation for the things that cannot be explained by mere logic.”

    You’re blinded by your faith. Logic is is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. God cannot be demonstrated; there are no valid inferences for god; god is supernatural, untouchable, and unknowable by epistemological standards. If you doubt this, study. Your ideas are baseless and ignore classical studies of knowledge and thinking, hence your writing is foolish. (Begin your studies with epistemology) You may obviously believe anything you wish, but don’t think of it as “logical”. It is as far removed from logic as bigfoot.

  • scott

    Cheers, Art. Science is based testing facts. Religion is based on feelings and believing what you’re told. You can’t figure godhood into an equation.

  • Greg

    Attn religious bible-thumpers – go away, you’re not welcome in this forum.

  • alizie

    Gross. Christians. *Shudder*

    Thank Moses I’m a Jew. At least we’re allowed to think.

  • Jessie

    Christians can study science alongside with athiests, or whatever other religion you may be. The fact is, we all have our theories and opinions. And, in reality, science itself could (I’m not saying it should) be argued to be a religion by definition: a group of people believing in something that cannot necessarily be proven. As John said above, science is based on theory. However, a theory is only a theory. Who is to say it won’t be disproven tomorrow? You must have faith to believe a theory is fact.

    So that whole bit is somewhat unrelated. Simply, don’t knock Christians, or any religion for that matter for looking at a problem in a different way. Your ideas may seem “more intelligent” to you, and to the other person, vise-versa. Opinions and intelligent debates are key to progress.

    With that said, onto something a little more fun than arguing…

    Personally, I find the black matter business intensely intriguing. Invisible matter that may make up even more cosmic bodies than the multitudes we can see? Almost sounds like something out of a good science-fiction novel. The idea of a space full of many times the number of objects we can see is slightly unnerving, however, but that may just be me.

  • tony

    science and religion both require alot of devotion and study save your soul save the planet can only be achieved with unity unless your superman.

  • pheldespat

    @ 7. alizie and the US public in general:

    Former Catholic here.

    ‘Christians’ encompasses Orthodox, Anglicans, various Protestants, Roman Catholics, and then all the crazy fundamentalists and Bible-literalists you have in the US.

    I guess that many of these self-proclaimed ‘Christians’ I hear about pertain to the latter category. And also, that many Atheists refer to fundamentalists when they talk about ‘Christians’.

    Look, guys. I was a Catholic in a Catholic country. But in 99.9% of our schools Evolution is taught. And people accept that Evolution and the Big Bang are compatible with their Catholic faith. Hell! The Catholic Church officially accepts both!

    The more I learn about US culture, the more I think that it’s a highly polarized culture where only 2 options are seen as possible for many (all?) aspects of life. And to top it off, you guys seem to be very vocal about whatever convictions you have, even when you lack the basic understanding of your belief of choice. Therefore, we have huge clashes of Republicans Vs. Democrats; Wild Capitalism Vs Moderate Capitalism (that’s ‘Socialism’ /’Obamunism’ for you); Fundamentalist Christians Vs. Contemptuous Atheists; America Vs. the rest of the world.

  • Chris

    If you dont want to talk about dark matter then why are you on this page? You are obviously lost, in more ways than one. Anyways, does anyone know who I should contact if I happen to have discovered what this “dark matter” really is?

  • Chris

    I have recently stumbled upon the answer to this ” dark matter” that everyone seems to not understand. Until recently, I was unaware that anyone thought of this matter as “missing.” Then I realized how easily missunderstood this concept could be. I do not work in the science field and am unaware of how someone should go about giving very important explanations like this to scientists, or who ever I should be giving it to. yes, its true, I can definitly explain “dark matter.” Unfortunatly, I will not explain it to anyone until im sure im speaking to the right person. I believe I will win the nobel prize for this explanation, so I need to make sure no one else Is getting credit for my intelligence, if you know what I mean. Please take this very seriously. I am positive my explanation is correct, I would bet my life on it 100 times. For the sake of modern science, if any one can help me, please do, you will not regret it. Thank you.


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