Astronomers discover largest dark matter in space

February 22nd, 2008 - 10:49 am ICT by admin  

Toronto, Feb 22 (IANS) An international team of astronomers have detected the largest-ever dark matter structure ever seen, stretching an awesome 270 million light-years across the night sky. The team, comprising French and Canadian scientists, “X-rayed” the dark matter, or an invisible web that makes up more than 80 percent of the mass of the universe.

They used a technique called weak gravitational lensing, similar to an X-ray of the body, to reveal the underlying skeleton of the dark matter.

“The results are a major leap forward since the presence of a cosmic dark matter web that extends over such large distances has never been observed before,” says Ludovic Van Waerbeke of British Columbia University.

The study relied on data gathered from the world’s largest digital camera.

The discovery is crucial for an understanding the history and evolution of the cosmos, said Waerbeke.

The astronomers observed how light from distant galaxies is bent and distorted by webs of dark matter as it travels toward Earth.

They then mapped dark matter structures by measuring the distortions seen in these galaxy light patterns.

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