The filament forms a bridge amongst two massive clusters referred to as Abell 222 and Abell 223, which lie 2.7 billion light-years away. The universe is thought to be filled with such strings of dark matter, a mysterious substance that cannot be seen, only sensed through its gravitational pull.
Scientists have made earlier attempts to find dark matter filaments, which are predicted by theories that recommend galaxy clusters form at the intersections of filaments. Dark matter is thought to make up 98 percent of all matter in the universe.
“This is the first time [a dark matter filament] has been convincingly detected from its gravitational lensing effect,” mentioned astronomer Jörg Dietrich of the University Observatory Munich, in Germany. “It is a resounding confirmation of the standard theory of structure formation of the universe. And it is a confirmation people didn’t believe was possible at this point.”
A lot of astronomers believed detecting filaments would have to wait till telescopes became considerably more advanced, but Dietrich and his colleagues benefited from the rare spatial geometry of this cluster, which allowed them to detect signs of what’s known as weak gravitational lensing.
Sources and more information:
Giant Dark Matter Bridge Between Galaxy Clusters Discovered by Clara Moskowitz, SPACE.com Assistant Managing Editor Date: 04 July 2012 Time: 01:01 PM ET FOLLOW US SHARE A July 2012 study of the galaxy clusters Abell 222 and Abell 223 found they are connected by a dark matter filament, shown here. The blue shading and the yellow contours indicate…