Scientists recently stumbled upon a huge amount of dark matter swaddling baby galaxies from long ago.
We recently reported on scientists’ amazing report of a huge knot of infant galaxies from shortly after the big band that were enveloped by dark matter — and it provides a fascinating glimpse into how dark matter influences everything around us.
Scientists believe that dark matter creates a huge web, threading between the galaxies of the universe that we can only view indirectly via changes in space-time. It’s led scientists to estimate that 85 percent of all known mass in the universe is totally invisible to us, yet there just the same. And it may have a bigger impact on our universe and our very instinct that most people realize.
Scientists used the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope to make their observations, which may in turn help them understand the mystery that is dark matter.
So what exactly is dark matter and how does it influence our own little corner of the Milky Way? Basically, dark matter is a hypothetical kind of matter that can only be viewed by way of its gravitational effects on visible matter. It neither emits nor absorbs light. It could explain discrepancies between the observed mass of large astronomical objects and their calculated mass.
Scientists think our own Milky Way is enveloped in a large dark matter halo that is millions of light years in all directions, compared to just 100,000 light years in diameter for our entire galaxy.
There’s probably some dark matter in our solar system — but not nearly enough for us to observe. Dark matter’s influence on gravity is too slight for us to observe except in situations where the object is massive, such as a galaxy cluster.
But hopefully our knowledge of dark matter will continue to progress to the point where we can better detect it even in small quantities — and better understand exactly what role it has in our universe, and where it comes from.