Dark Matter's 'Cosmic Web' Spotted for 1st Time
Scientists see glue that holds universe together
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2014 4:19 PM CST

(Newser) – Scientists have seen a tendril of dark matter for the first time, and all it took was a "cosmic flashlight." Using the Keck telescope in Hawaii, a scientific team spotted the dark matter in a gas cloud illuminated by the radiation of a distant quasar, the BBC reports. "The light from the quasar is like a flashlight beam," said Sebastiano Cantalupo, lead author of the report. Lit by that beam, the glowing hydrogen of the gas cloud traced out the dark matter lying behind it.

This all supports a theory that galaxies are wrapped up in filaments of gas that stretch across space like a web, National Geographic reports. About 85% of the web is said to be dark matter, Nature World News explains, and galaxies sit like spiders on intersections of the web. Gravity is what keeps us, and all matter, sitting on these filaments, and now one has actually been observed. It's "giving us the first picture of extended gas between galaxies," co-author J. Xavier Prochaska tells The Space Reporter. "It provides a terrific insight into the overall structure of our universe."