NASA Discovers Dark Matter PhenomenonBy: Shawn Hess - March 2, 2012
NASA discovers new dark matter phenomenon in an area they call Abell 520. Abell 520 is a merger of galaxies which were thought to have collided a long time ago and are now attached to a clump of dark matter (an invisible substance). The matter makes it difficult to study because, it has a bending and distorting effect which obscures the true source of light and other significant markers from the area.
However a new technique called gravitational lensing can allow scientists to infer the presence of dark matter in a cluster like Abell 520. By employing this technique researchers have been able to theorize that the dark matter has condensed into a dark core and traveled far away from the galaxies which they originally believed were closely banned together.
Astronomer James Jee of the University of California comments on the newly discovered phenomenon:
“This result is a puzzle,”
“Dark matter is not behaving as predicted, and it’s not obviously clear what is going on. It is difficult to explain this Hubble observation with the current theories of galaxy formation and dark matter.”
The original detection of Abell 520 was written-off by researchers as the data was confusing and contradictory to what they knew about dark matter at the time. Only recently could Hubble analysis confirm the separation of the galaxies and the dark matter. Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 was utilized to help verify their suspicions.
Jee comments on the result:
“We know of maybe six examples of high-speed galaxy cluster collisions where the dark matter has been mapped,”
“But the Bullet Cluster and Abell 520 are the two that show the clearest evidence of recent mergers, and they are inconsistent with each other. No single theory explains the different behavior of dark matter in those two collisions. We need more examples.”
So it is unclear what NASA discovered with this dark matter Phenomenon, but it does have implications for future understanding of how the matter obscures what is really out there in space. Researchers may be able to use this knowledge to create new technology that allows them to separate the distortions from what is really occupying the space they hope to examine.
We will keep you posted on what happens with this dark matter discovery going forward.