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Astronomy Picture of the Day
Index - Miscellaneous: Dark Matter

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Editor's choices for the most educational Astronomy Pictures of the Day about dark matter:

Thumbnail image.  Click to load APOD for this date. APOD: 2001 December 19 - Finding Dark Matter
Explanation: Where is dark matter? Galaxies rotate and move in clusters as if a tremendous amount of unseen matter is present. But does dark matter exist in the greater universe too -- and if so, where? The answer can be found by comparing the distribution of galaxies observed with numerical simulations. This comparison became much more accurate recently when over 100,000 galaxy observations from the 2-Degree Field Galactic Redshift Survey were used. In the above frame from a computer simulation of our universe, a 300 million light-year slice shows dark matter in gray and galaxies as colored circles. The red box indicates the location of a rich cluster of galaxies, while the green box shows a more typical cross-section of our universe. Analyses indicate that the immense gravity of the pervasive dark matter pulls normal matter to it, so that light matter and dark matter actually cluster together.

Thumbnail image.  Click to load APOD for this date. APOD: 2003 August 14 - Dark Matter Map
Explanation: The total mass within giant galaxy cluster CL0025+1654, about 4.5 billion light-years away, produces a cosmic gravitational lens -- bending light as predicted by Einstein's theory of gravity and forming detectable images of even more distant background galaxies. Of course, the total cluster mass is the sum of the galaxies themselves, seen as ordinary luminous matter, plus the cluster's invisible dark matter whose nature remains unknown. But by analyzing the distribution of luminous matter and the properties of the gravitational lensing due to total cluster mass, researchers have solved the problem of tracing the dark matter layout. Their resulting map shows the otherwise invisible dark matter in blue, and the positions of the cluster galaxies in yellow. The work, based on extensive Hubble Space Telescope observations, reveals that the cluster's dark matter is not evenly distributed, but follows the clumps of luminous matter closely.

Thumbnail image.  Click to load APOD for this date. APOD: 2005 September 25 - WMAP Resolves the Universe
Explanation: Analyses of a new high-resolution map of microwave light emitted only 380,000 years after the Big Bang appear to define our universe more precisely than ever before. The eagerly awaited results announced last year from the orbiting Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe resolve several long-standing disagreements in cosmology rooted in less precise data. Specifically, present analyses of above WMAP all-sky image indicate that the universe is 13.7 billion years old (accurate to 1 percent), composed of 73 percent dark energy, 23 percent cold dark matter, and only 4 percent atoms, is currently expanding at the rate of 71 km/sec/Mpc (accurate to 5 percent), underwent episodes of rapid expansion called inflation, and will expand forever.

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