We’re finally witnessing our lost universe.

Key takeaways

  • Scientists have created an image showing dark matter connecting galaxies, helping to prove its existence.
  • Dark matter, which doesn’t emit or reflect light, is believed to hold galaxies together due to its gravitational effects.
  • Using weak gravitational lensing, researchers combined over 23,000 galaxy images to reveal dark matter filaments.
  • This discovery supports the theory that dark matter acts like a web, connecting galaxies across vast distances.
  • This breakthrough brings us closer to understanding dark matter and its role in the universe.


Seeing the Unseeable

The notion that gave rise to the concept of dark matter developed out of necessity. Based on the stuff we can see, our universe should not be able to exist and function as it does – visible matter cannot provide the gravity required to hold our galaxies together. Scientists can explain this gap by introducing dark matter. They believe that our universe must contain a type of substance that we cannot see, one that does not absorb, reflect, or emit light – really dark matter.

For current scientific theories to hold true, dark matter must account for more than a quarter of all matter in the universe. Still, what dark matter is comprised of remains unknown, and discovering proof of something that cannot be seen is a difficult undertaking. Previously, the gravitational effects of dark matter were the closest thing scientists had to evidence, but now researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, have something even better: a composite image that demonstrates that galaxies are truly connected by dark matter.

Credit: S. Epps & M. Hudson / University of Waterloo

Using a method known as weak gravitational lensing, the researchers merged photos obtained over several years to demonstrate the presence of dark matter. The composite was built using photos from over 23,000 galaxy pairings located 4.5 billion light-years distant.

The Missing Universe

We may not have a better understanding of what this stuff is made of, but we do have a tangible picture of its existence between galaxies.

“For decades, researchers have been predicting the existence of dark-matter filaments between galaxies that act like a web-like superstructure connecting galaxies together,” noted Mike Hudson, an astronomy professor at Waterloo, in a Royal Astronomical Society press release. “This image moves us beyond predictions to something we can see and measure.”

Indeed, the picture is a critical step toward legitimizing dark matter and dark energy at a time when other scientists propose ideas that eliminate the requirement for dark matter to exist at all. It moves us closer to understanding dark matter and its function in holding the cosmos together. Existence is an immensely huge jigsaw with uncountable components. Any time we can discover a method to connect those dots, we bring the larger picture into sharper focus and go one step closer to completely comprehending our reality.

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