Big Find: Dark Matter Strand Connecting Galaxy Clusters

Find confirms theories on universe's formation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2012 4:28 AM CDT
Dark Matter Strand Found Connecting Galaxy Clusters
Abell 222 and Abell 223 are relatively close together, making it possible to detect the strand of dark matter between them.   (European Space Agency)

(Newser) – This is shaping up to be one hell of a week for scientists trying to figure out the mysteries of the universe. Hot on the heels of the apparent Higgs boson discovery, an international team of astrophysicists has revealed that it has spotted a filament of dark matter connecting two clusters of galaxies, reports the Los Angeles Times. The mysterious matter is believed to make up most of the matter in the universe, and to give the cosmic web of stars and galaxies its shape; but until now, it had only been detected in clumps, not strands.

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The strand—which stretches for 58 million light years between the galaxy clusters Abell 222 and Abell 223—was detected through an analysis of background light from 40,000 galaxies, which found that space and time were being warped by an unseen mass. Other scientists hailed the team for turning the strands from theory to fact. "It's a resounding confirmation of the standard theory of structure formation of the universe," an astronomer at the University Observatory Munich says. "And it's a confirmation people didn't think was possible at this point." (Read more dark matter stories.)

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