Tuesday, May 15, 2007
For the first time in history, scientists may have solid visual proof of the existence of dark matter, which supposedly makes up a large percentage of the universe, and which, it has been theorized, can reverse the expansion process and may cause the cosmos to collapse in on itself. The galaxy cluster pictured here was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and is five billion light years away. The distinct ring of dark matter measures 2.6 million light years across. NASAs James Jee says, "Although the invisible matter has been found before in other galaxy clusters, it has never been detected to be so largely separated from the hot gas and the galaxies that make up galaxy clusters." Jee also works at the Johns Hopkins University. "Nature is doing an experiment for us that we can't do in a lab, and it agrees with our theoretical models," said team member Holland Ford. The astronomers said they made the discovery accidentally while mapping the distribution of dark matter within the ZwC10024+1652 cluster in August 2006.