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Space Science

Hubble Builds 3D Dark Matter Map 177

Posted by timothy
from the turn-left-go-fast dept.
astroengine writes "Dark matter can't be spotted directly because it doesn't interact with electromagnetic radiation (i.e. it doesn't emit any radiation and reflects no light). However, its gravitational influence on space-time can bend light from its otherwise straight path (a phenomenon known as 'lensing'). Using a sophisticated algorithm to scan a comprehensive Hubble Space Telescope survey of the cosmos, astronomers have plotted a map of 'weak lensing' events. Combining this with red shift measurements from ground-based observatories, they've produced a strikingly colorful 3D map of the structure of dark matter."
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Hubble Builds 3D Dark Matter Map

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  • by Dilligent (1616247) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @07:42PM (#31651978) Homepage
    ...but I fail to see the 3D that was promised by TFA.
    I agree it's a nice picture but there seems to be no explanation as to what these colours actually mean, let alone any kind of conclusion drawn from what I presume to be "pockets of dark matter".

    Anyone care to enlighten me?
  • by osgeek (239988) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @08:28PM (#31652248) Homepage Journal

    (To me still a imaginary excuse, based on the arrogance of not being able to admit that the math is wrong, but instead calling the universe wrong! ^^ [But a good {and compact!} explanation will of course change my mind.])

    That might be something similar to what they told Einstein when he used his math to explain characteristics of nature that no one had witnessed.

    I find the possibility of dark matter and energy kind of fascinating. Maybe it just a problem with their math - but then again, having huge amounts of mass in the universe be something other than what we experience every day adds a little mystery to it all.

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @09:07PM (#31652494) Homepage
    Thanks to Hubble's ability to paint an incredibly dense picture of background galaxies, our statistics are based on a huge number of samples and we can trust them pretty thoroughly.

    I'll go farther than that: I can remember how before the Hubble was launched, scientists didn't think we'd ever actually be able to observe the effect because it was too small to be imaged from any ground-based telescope.

  • by insufflate10mg (1711356) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @09:18PM (#31652574)
    Look at it this way: if the RGB is 255,000,000 then its about 255,000,000 light years awhile. If the color is 000,000,255 consider it to be only around 255 light years away.
  • by Tanuki64 (989726) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:03AM (#31654082)
    ...is totally normal matter, but invisible for us because it is located in another universe? I am not a physicist so my idea might be totally wacko, but ages ago I watched the BBC documentation 'The elegant universe'. One of the string theories explained there proposed that the reason gravity is so weak compared to other major forces is that the 'strings', which are responsible for gravity have the ability to migrate into parallel universes. Therefore we always feel only a fraction of the gravity mass 'produces'. <--- Please be lenient with my very unscientific wording. :-)

    So when I saw this documentation I always wondered, when 'our' gravity migrates into other universes, shouldn't also migrate gravity from other universes into ours? I wondered if this theory was true, how would a black hole in a parallel universe look like here?

    So maybe, if we had the ability to fly to those places where hubble located the 'dark matter', we would find nothing. The space is curved there for no apparent reason. It is actually because of normal matter in a parallel universe.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday March 29, 2010 @11:35AM (#31658714) Homepage

    The question I have is why so many people are so antagonistic to the very notion of dark matter, routinely calling the people who suggest it... "arrogant" and the like.

    Personally I think the AC (perhaps unintentionally) nailed it -- it's part of a larger anti-science movement that considers the conclusions of science confusing, uncomfortable, or politically unattractive, and therefore seeks to discredit not just the particular theories but science in general. They do this by dressing up their ignorance with a thin veneer of scientific criticism in order to paint the professional scientists as the ones who are arrogant, ignorant, and arguing out of belief not evidence or reason.

    Dark matter gets singled out because it sounds weird (especially if you know nothing about it) and like scientists are just making things up (especially if...). And if they're just making that up, then maybe they're just making up global warming, or evolution, or the age of the earth.

    Even if they aren't against any of those particular theories, it's still just part of a general anti-science trend where people start with their conclusion -- the scientists are wrong because I don't understand them and I'm so smart that's not possible unless they're wrong -- and then work backwards to the kind of posts you see here. Accusing scientists of arrogance and dogmatism.

    I mean look at the GP. They says it's "dogmatic in the extreme" not to admit that non-baryonic matter violates the law of gravity, clearly demonstrating that they are arguing out of ignorance and a belief that dark matter theory can't be true. The hypocrisy is astounding.

    The world makes me sad. But data like this makes me happy. It's an exciting time in physics no matter what the doubters say and I can't wait to see where it leads.

Egotist: A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. -- Ambrose Bierce

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