Physicists analyzed the first light in the universe and detected dark matter from 12 billion years ago

Physicists analyzed the first light in the universe and detected dark matter from 12 billion years ago

The radiation residue from the Big Bang, distorted by dark matter 12 billion years ago.

Radiation residue from the Big Bang, distorted by dark matter 12 billion years ago.Reiko Matsushita

  • Physicists have detected 12 billion-year-old dark matter in a new study.

  • They used a technique called gravitational lensing to probe the distribution of dark matter around ancient galaxies.

  • Dark matter is a mysterious and invisible substance that makes up the majority of all matter in the universe.

Scientists have now glimpsed the distribution of dark matter around galaxies 12 billion years ago, marking the first discovery of the mysterious substance.

In a new study, published Monday in the journal Physical Review Letters, scientists have identified dark matter – a mysterious, invisible substance that makes up most of the matter in the universe – dating back 12 billion years, just under two billion years old. years after the Big Bang.

“For the first time, we were measuring dark matter from almost the earliest moments of the universe,” Yuichi Harikane, study co-author and assistant professor at the University of Tokyo, said in a news release. He added: “12 billion years ago, things were very different. You see more galaxies being formed than now; even the first galaxy clusters are starting to form.”

Although dark matter makes up about 27 percent of the universe, astronomers can’t detect it directly, partly because it doesn’t emit light. But researchers can observe the gravitational effect dark matter has on visible matter, such as galaxies, by deforming light to act as a lens on distant objects behind them.

This graph shows the light paths from a distant galaxy being viewed gravitationally by a cluster in the foreground.  This technique allows astronomers to map the distribution of dark matter in space.

This graph shows light paths from a distant galaxy being observed gravitationally from a foreground cluster. This technique allows astronomers to map the distribution of dark matter in space.NASA and ESA

In the study, the researchers used the same technique, called gravitational lensing, to measure distortions from the first light in the universe. The cosmic microwave background, or CMB, is the residual radiation from the Big Bang, which is distributed throughout the cosmos. The researchers selected 1.5 million galaxies, all seen as they were about 12 billion years ago, to collectively act as a gravitational lens. They analyzed the distortions of this ancient residual light, allowing researchers to reconstruct the distribution of dark matter in these crystalline galaxies.

The researchers found that the dark matter of the early universe does not appear to be as rubbery as current physical models suggest.

“Our discovery is still uncertain,” Hironao Miyatake, study co-author and cosmologist at the University of Nagoya, said in a press release. “But if that’s true, it would suggest that the whole model is flawed as we go further back in time.”

“This is exciting because if the result persists after the uncertainties have been reduced, it could suggest an improvement in the model that could provide insight into the nature of dark matter itself,” Miyatake added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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