Astrophysicists say they have discovered one strand of the long-elusive dark matter filaments, thought to connect galaxies and help shape the universe.
The mysterious stuff called dark matter is thought to act as the spider silk for the cosmic web of the universe. But although it makes up most of the matter in the universe, scientists have been able to find only clumps of it in the web’s galaxy-filled “nodes,” not along the gossamer threads that are thought to help give the universe its structure.
Now, after much searching and with a little luck, an international team of astrophysicists has discovered a dark matter filament connecting two clusters of galaxies about 2.7 billion light-years away.
The discovery, published online Wednesday by the journal Nature, catapults these filaments from sound theory to observable fact.
“I have to say the evidence is pretty strong,” said Manoj Kaplinghat, a theoretical astrophysicist at UC Irvine who was not involved in the study. “There have been other claims that have sort of gone away, but this one looks like the best one I’ve seen. As far as I can tell, this really is the first.”
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