Brilliant news about dark matter

No, not “dark matters,” nor even “a dark matter.”  Dark matter.  The stuff that we can’t see that may make up three quarters of the matter in the universe.

And with news this big, it still took a couple of days to get to me, courtesy of P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula.  Why wasn’t this on the front page of every newspaper on the planet?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced they have direct evidence of dark matter.  Here’s the photograph:

X-ray/Optical Composite of 1E 0657-56

Caption:  This composite image shows the galaxy cluster 1E 0657-56, also known as the “bullet cluster.” This cluster was formed after the collision of two large clusters of galaxies, the most energetic event known in the universe since the Big Bang.

Hot gas detected by Chandra in X-rays is seen as two pink clumps in the image and contains most of the “normal,” or baryonic, matter in the two clusters. The bullet-shaped clump on the right is the hot gas from one cluster, which passed through the hot gas from the other larger cluster during the collision. An optical image from Magellan and the Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxies in orange and white. The blue areas in this image show where astronomers find most of the mass in the clusters. The concentration of mass is determined using the effect of so-called gravitational lensing, where light from the distant objects is distorted by intervening matter. Most of the matter in the clusters (blue) is clearly separate from the normal matter (pink), giving direct evidence that nearly all of the matter in the clusters is dark.

I am old enough to be able to recall that the news of Wilson and Penzias’ confirmation of the Big Bang, and consequent disproof of Steady State, also was not front page news.

All of which suggests newspapers have their priorities wrong.

NASA’s press release was headlined simply, but importantly:  NASA Finds Direct Proof of Dark Matter.  Go to the NASA site and look at the great animations.

Scientists usually have a few beers after such news.  It may be a good time to purchase stock in breweries.


One Response to Brilliant news about dark matter

  1. DavidD says:

    I was satisfied that there was dark matter when years ago I heard the evidence for it as the fact that galaxies rotate like phonograph records rather than the way the solar system does. So it’s a nice picture, this new image, but it doesn’t change my concepts. Unfortunately much science can be seen as only, “I already knew it,” or “I don’t believe it.” It takes such a long time to build up something really new. Of course it does happen, like when the two studies came out that showed the expansion of the universe has accelerated. Then physicists already had theories to attach to that, like the Higgs force, though I see in Cosmic Variance to which PZ Myers linked that some still want to change the law of gravity for that rather than go to a fifth and sixth fundamental force.

    Oh, it’s like watching sausages be made.


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