Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dark Matter - the other matter

We have known for some time that we were missing something. Every time we tried to model galaxy formation the stars would just fly apart. Then there was the problem that stars on the outer rims of galaxies moved at the same speed as those in denser regions.

For years now I have been contemplating the n-body problem. This problem is the model of Gravity. I noticed in my tea every morning that when I put the sugar in my tea and gave it a stir it would form the shape of a galaxy. The only way it could do this is if our models were missing the tea. Physicist also saw this problem, their galaxies were spinning out of control. Everything was in chaos. They were missing the tea too.

This picture is of the galactic cluster CL0024+17. Each point of light is a galaxy. Notice the dark ring. The amount of energy in the initial explosions caused a ripple in the dark matter. Visible matter is just a small part of the universe. Present estimates show the universe is made up of 22% Dark Matter, 74% Dark Energy, leaving only 4% of the universe made of light and normal matter.

What does this mean. We only understand ~4% of the universe. But with pictures like this we can start to understand the remaining 96%.

Picture, thanks to Hubble Space Telescope and to all the people who made this possible.
Addendum 5/16/2010
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