Best dark matter map to date was made by Yale researchers

Team of researchers from the Yale University have created one of the best maps of dark matter – slow particles that are the main material in the universe.

The map is derived from Hubble Space Telescope Frontier Fields data of three galaxy clusters that are used as an magnifying glasses to look in older parts of the universe. This phenomenon is called gravitational lensing.

The international team that took this task was led by Priyamvada Natarajan, an Yale astrophysicist. “With the data of these three lensing clusters we have successfully mapped the granularity of dark matter within the clusters in exquisite detail,” Natarajan said. “We have mapped all of the clumps of dark matter that the data permit us to detect, and have produced the most detailed topological map of the dark matter landscape to date.”

According to scientists dark matter doesn’t reflect or absorb light, and may comprise over 80% of all matter in universe. The explanation of how galaxies form and how the universe is structured can be found by investigating this elusive matter. Researchers are trying to find the particle responsible for it – candidates are axions and neutralinos.

“While we now have a precise cosmic inventory for the amount of dark matter and how it is distributed in the universe, the particle itself remains elusive,” Natarajan said.

These particles are though to cause the gravitational lensing, which causes the light from distant galaxies to be bend. Systematic distortions occur because of this light bending, and Natarajan’s team used them to make a map.

This map closely matches the computer models based on the cold dark matter theory. This theory says that colder particles moves slower compared to light, while the hotter ones moves faster. The researchers said that this agreement with the model is notable, because all of the evidence of dark matter until now is indirect.

Illustris suite – the high resolutions used in the study show the same structure formation of the universe as the currently accepted theory.