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First 'image' of a dark matter web that connects galaxies

sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170412091230.htm

FULL STORY

Dark matter filaments bridge the space


between galaxies in this false colour map.
The locations of bright galaxies are
shown by the white regions and the
presence of a dark matter filament
bridging the galaxies is shown in red.

Credit: S. Epps & M. Hudson / University of


Waterloo

Researchers at the University of


Waterloo have been able to
capture the first composite image
of a dark matter bridge that
connects galaxies together. The
scientists publish their work in a
new paper in Monthly Notices of the
Royal Astronomical Society.

The composite image, which combines a number of individual images, confirms predictions that
galaxies across the universe are tied together through a cosmic web connected by dark matter
that has until now remained unobservable.

Dark matter, a mysterious substance that comprises around 25 per cent of the universe, doesn't
shine, absorb or reflect light, which has traditionally made it largely undetectable, except
through gravity.

"For decades, researchers have been predicting the existence of dark-matter filaments between
galaxies that act like a web-like superstructure connecting galaxies together," said Mike Hudson,
a professor of astronomy at the University of Waterloo. "This image moves us beyond
predictions to something we can see and measure."

As part of their research, Hudson and co-author Seth Epps, a master's student at the University
of Waterloo at the time, used a technique called weak gravitational lensing, an effect that causes
the images of distant galaxies to warp slightly under the influence of an unseen mass such as a

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planet, a black hole, or in this case, dark matter. The effect was measured in images from a
multi-year sky survey at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

They combined lensing images from more than 23,000 galaxy pairs located 4.5 billion light-years
away to create a composite image or map that shows the presence of dark matter between the
two galaxies. Results show the dark matter filament bridge is strongest between systems less
than 40 million light years apart.

"By using this technique, we're not only able to see that these dark matter filaments in the
universe exist, we're able to see the extent to which these filaments connect galaxies together,"
said Epps.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Content may be edited for style
and length.

Journal Reference:

1. Seth D. Epps, Michael J. Hudson. The weak-lensing masses of filaments between


luminous red galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2017; 468 (3):
2605 DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx517

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "First 'image' of a dark matter web that
Cite This Page:
connects galaxies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2017.
<www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170412091230.htm>.

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