Scientists get confused by new findings on the mysterious dark matter of the universe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Dark matter, the mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including our own Milky Way, is confusing scientists again, with new understanding of distant galaxies struggling with current understanding of its nature With comments.

A NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the giant galaxy cluster MACSJ 1206. NASA / ESA / G. Caminha (University of Groningen), m. Menegaty (Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science of Bologna), p. Natarajan (Yale University) / CLASH Team and M. REUTERS by Cornmouters / ESA / Hubble / Handouts

Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in trillions of stars and three large clusters of theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed.

“Either there is a missing component in the simulation or we have made a fundamental misconception about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astronomer Priyamvada Natarajan co-authored the study published in the journal Science on Friday.

Dark matter is the invisible glue that holds the stars together inside a galaxy. It also forms an invisible scaffold that enables galaxies to form clusters. But it has very strange properties. It does not emit, absorb or reflect light and does not interact with any known particles.

About 96% of the matter in the universe is believed to be dark matter, along with ordinary matter – the visible substance that makes up stars, planets, and people – just 4%.

The presence of Dark Matter is known only through its gravitational pull on a visible matter in space. It differs from similar esoteric and unseen dark energy, which is considered to be the property of space and driving the accelerated expansion of the universe. Dark energy is repulsive. Dark matter attracts through gravity.

The new study included observations from the Hubble Space Telescope in Chile and the much larger telescope of the European Southern Observatory.

When light from distant sources such as distant galaxies passes through another galaxy or a cluster of them such as matter, the light is deflected and bent – a phenomenon known as “gravitational lensing”, astrophysicists and studies Lead author of Massimo Meneggetti of the Observatory of Astrophysics and Bologna in Italy and Astronomy at the National Institute for Astrophysics.

New observations have shown that the gravitational lensing effects produced by galaxies living inside massive galaxy clusters were far stronger than in current galaxy matter theory, suggesting an unexpectedly large concentration of dark matter in these galaxies.

“It’s quite amazing,” Menegaty said.

Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler