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Thread: NASA says it has found proof of existence of dark matter

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    ckb2001's Avatar
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    NASA says it has found proof of existence of dark matter

    So, over the years there's first been an intensive hunt, and then more and more indirect to direct evidence of dark matter, which is stuff that isn't like ordinary matter and was postulated long time ago because the Theory of Relativity predicts rotational motion of galaxies to only be possible if far more matter than just visible matter exists.

    Of course, there were alternative theories, but over time it seems the theory of Relativity wasn't the culprit and instead the universe is mostly made up of dark energy and dark matter (no direct evidence for dark energy yet though).

    So, now it seems we have the most conclusive proof dark matter exists:

    http://www.physorg.com/news98450367.html

    "Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope spotted a ring of dark matter in a galaxy cluster some five billion light-years away from Earth, which measured some 2.6 million light-years across.

    "This is the first time we have detected dark matter as having a unique structure that is different from the gas and galaxies in the cluster," said James Jee, a member of NASA's team of astronomers.

    Astronomers have long suspected there must be some substance holding galaxy clusters together, otherwise galaxies would only have the gravity from their visible stars, which would not be enough to keep them from flying apart.

    Though invisible, astronomers have inferred dark matter exists by observing how its gravity bends the light of more distant background galaxies.

    "Although the invisible matter has been found before in other galaxy clusters, it has never been detected to be so largely separated from the hot gas and the galaxies that make up galaxy clusters," said Jee, who works at the Johns Hopkins University."
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    Rafiki's Avatar
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    Hmm I always thought the unaccounted weight of could be accounted by dead stars and black holes...

    Quick question: If dark matter makes up 90% of the weight of our galaxy, wouldn't it be found in all areas, including everywhere around us on Earth?

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    ckb2001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rafiki View Post
    Hmm I always thought the unaccounted weight of could be accounted by dead stars and black holes...

    Quick question: If dark matter makes up 90% of the weight of our galaxy, wouldn't it be found in all areas, including everywhere around us on Earth?
    Dark matter and dark energy are supposed to be everywhere. The problem is no one knows how to directly detect it. I can't even imagine what kinds of technology will be possible if we can find ways to use that stuff. I mean it's something with nearly completely unknown properties, so I bet it's weirder than science fiction.

    Oh, and dark matter and dark energy are still considered different. Right now, many think 98% of the universe is made of dark matter and dark energy, with dark energy accounting for 75% and dark matter for 23%. Well, who knows about this stuff anyway (it's like the tip of the iceberg that we know of right now), but dark matter is thought to be some kind of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) and dark energy is thought to be a repulsive force ripping the universe apart.
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    spydertl79's Avatar
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    That's really exciting stuff.
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    jared81's Avatar
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    over my head, im from central florida and alot of my family has worked for nasa at different positions, and there are somethings my uncle tries to tell me that i will never understand
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    arsenal's Avatar
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    im still just amazed by the fact that we have a telescope that can see things from 5 billion light years away...

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    Mike13's Avatar
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    What is dark matter?
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    ...and not that replica crap either...
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    ckb2001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arsenal View Post
    im still just amazed by the fact that we have a telescope that can see things from 5 billion light years away...
    The light isn't being obstructed by much of anything on its journey here. Space isn't truly empty, but it mostly is, so seeing light from even over 10 billion light years away is possible.

    And remember, since it took light that many years to get here, you're actually seeing something that happened 5 billion years ago.
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    ckb2001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike13 View Post
    What is dark matter?
    No one knows what it is, but you obviously know gravity depends on the mass an object has. You can plot the predicted (and actual) trajectories of the planets in the solar system by mostly knowing just their masses and distances.

    The problem is distant galaxies (actually all galaxies) are rotating at a rate too fast for the observable matter to account for. So, either the theory of gravity is wrong (currently it's the General Theory of Relativity) or there is unseen matter out there whose mass, together with the mass of observable matter, accounts for the rotation we see.

    It seems the latter is correct. So, physicists are labeling this unseen matter as dark matter, and together with something else called dark energy, those two things make up nearly 98% of our universe. So, the stuff we're made out of comprises only about 2% of everything in the universe.

    Keep in mind though that the study of this stuff is cutting edge science, meaning more than half of what they state today is likely wrong and will be revised as more evidence is gathered.
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    PhinPhan1227's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckb2001 View Post
    No one knows what it is, but you obviously know gravity depends on the mass an object has. You can plot the predicted (and actual) trajectories of the planets in the solar system by mostly knowing just their masses and distances.

    The problem is distant galaxies (actually all galaxies) are rotating at a rate too fast for the observable matter to account for. So, either the theory of gravity is wrong (currently it's the General Theory of Relativity) or there is unseen matter out there whose mass, together with the mass of observable matter, accounts for the rotation we see.

    It seems the latter is correct. So, physicists are labeling this unseen matter as dark matter, and together with something else called dark energy, those two things make up nearly 98% of our universe. So, the stuff we're made out of comprises only about 2% of everything in the universe.

    Keep in mind though that the study of this stuff is cutting edge science, meaning more than half of what they state today is likely wrong and will be revised as more evidence is gathered.
    And yet it is presented to the media as "proof" that their theory is correct. I would be interested to see if the actual scientists presented it that way, or if it was the NASA media center. I would hope the actual scientists were less definitive.
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