Dark Matter, in Three Dimensions

Image comparing distribution of normal and dark matter
Comparison of the large-scale structure of normal matter and dark matter. Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Massey (California Institute of Technology)

The American Astronomical Society is meeting in Seattle, and researchers just announced the results from an intense, international, multi-telescope survey looking deep into the universe. Using data from the survey, called COSMOS, astronomers were able to map out the distribution of dark matter and compare it to the distribution of normal matter. The data confirmed several theories we have, though we’re still quite far from understanding even the fundamentals of dark matter.

It has been theorized that dark matter became arranged in enormous filaments as the universe cooled after the big bang. And since normal matter would be gravitationally attracted to the dark matter, we would expect that galaxies would be distributed along the dark matter filaments as well. As you can see in the accompanying image, they match up remarkably well. There are some discrepancies, though they may be related simply to the limits of our ability to detect all the matter. Continue reading “Dark Matter, in Three Dimensions”