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Posted at 04:02 PM ET, 01/10/2012

Dark matter of the universe, in three giant maps

A side of the universe largely unknown to us became a little bit clearer after scientists released the largest scale renderings of dark matter yet.


The dark matter cosmic web is seen in all four directions surveyed by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, during each season of the year. The central color inset shows the previous largest COSMOS Dark Matter map. The moon is shown in the corner to show the scale of the dark matter. (CFHTLens/NASA, ESA - Van Waerbeke, Heymans/P. Simon and T. Schrabback)

The mysterious material is believed to make up 98 percent of all matter in the universe, even though we know very little else about it. Scientists believe dark matter is made up of an exotic particle that doesn't interact with normal atoms. And we are aware of its existence only because of its gravitational effect on galaxies.

The scientists behind the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Lensing Survey created the maps of dark matter by analyzing about 10 million galaxies in four different regions of the sky. The result? Maps that represent the first direct evidence that dark matter extends more than 1 billion light-years. (One light-year is the distance light travels in a year, the equivalent of about 6 trillion miles.)

See the maps and their findings below:

In this map, the densest regions of the dark matter cosmic web are shown to be hosting massive clusters of galaxies:


(CFHTLens - Van Waerbeke, Heymans)

Here, the map shows that dark matter is distributed as a network of gigantic dense (white) and empty (blue) regions, where the largest white regions are about the size of several Earth moons on the sky:


(Van Waerbeke, Heymans - CFHTLens)

Read more at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope project.

By  |  04:02 PM ET, 01/10/2012

Tags:  National, Science, dark matter, maps

 
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