The observable universe contains unobservable matter. The most notable of these by name is a mysterious force known as dark matter. Astronomers have long desired to directly observe the mysterious force. The term dark matter is a slight misnomer, however. A more appropriate term would be dark gravity. The term “dark” in dark matter stems from the fact that the substance refuses to emit light. In recent news, however, a team of astronomers believes a quasar may have shed light on this dark material.
Astrophysicists predict that the universe is held together by a kind of dark “cosmic glue.” Galaxies are believed to be tied together by a spider web that mostly consists of dark matter. When physicists actually calculate the amount of matter in a galaxy, the mass is not heavy enough to bind stars into a large conglomeration. Therefore, physicists reason the observable universe contains unobservable matter that glues galaxies together and paints a general picture of the structure of the cosmos.
Traditionally, astronomers have been mapping the structure of the universe by appealing to the cosmic microwave background radiation left over approximately 380,000 years after the initial big bang. The cosmic microwave background radiation is the earliest light ever to be emitted by the universe. The light is imprinted into the universe in the form of radiation. When astronomers first mapped the cosmic microwave background radiation, it had been called, “starring into the face of God.” The radiation serves as a hallmark for determining how matter first condescend into proto-galaxies, galaxies and ultimately, clusters of galaxies.
In trying to gain a glimpse at dark matter, astronomers have long appealed to a phenomena known as gravitational lensing. Gravitational lensing occurs when light is bent around a galaxy exerted by its gravitational pull. However, gravitational lensing is increasingly difficult to use when trying to detect dark matter that is aloof in the cosmic ocean.
Now, astronomers believe that may have caught glimpse into the internal structure of the observable universe alternative means. By utilizing the illumination emitted by the quasar, scientists were able to use the archaic star as a kind of “cosmic flashlight” to trace out the filaments of dark matter surrounding a nebulous gas. Quasars are stars that are fantastically bright and tend to be located inside the nucleus of galaxies. Luckily for the astronomers, the light emitted by the quasar illuminates a cold gas cloud known as a nebula, and allows the researchers to trace out the filaments around the disperse gas.
Astronomers have calculated how galaxies gradually form out of disperse galactic waste. Gravity is the primary force that helps glue this material together in the observable universe. The astronomers believe that the gravity exerted by dark matter is what largely allows galaxy formation to occur. Mapping cosmic filaments determines whether models for the structure of the universe are consistent with data.
The images taken by the astronomers are consistent with models that map the structure of the universe. By tracing the filaments around the nebula, the researchers now have specific measurements for the amount of both matter and dark matter in the universe. However, the measurements are not exact. The researchers calculations suggest their should be ten times more gas than emitted by nebula. Thus, despite best efforts, it is still the case that the observable universe contains unobservable matter.
By Nathan Cranford