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February 17, 2011

Astronomers Discover Amount of Dark Matter Needed For Star-Forming Galaxies

Dark matter, "an invisible substance permeating our universe", is a major component in the creation of galaxies like our own, the Milky Way. Astronomers, using the Herschel Space Observatory, have discovered how much dark matter is needed for galaxies to form. If you have too little dark matter, the galaxy would never form. If you have too much, this would prevent the gas from cooling efficiently and the result would be many small galaxies. The right amount, however, is the formula for a star-saturated galaxy.

Astronomers mapped galaxies using infrared light (like what Professor used in class). The results from the maps showed that galaxies are quite clustered. The amount of clustering depends on the amount of dark matter, and thus, the astronomers were able to calculate the amount of dark matter needed.

The findings are important to our still expanding knowledge of the formation of galaxies.

The full article can be seen here:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/herschel/herschel20110216.html

Posted by hartadam at February 17, 2011 03:00 PM

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