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Did Dark Matter Just Get A Little Less Mysterious?

Abell 3827 Image.jpg

Using Hubble Space Telescope images, a team of astronomers studied a nearby cluster of galaxies that shows an unusually dense concentration of bright galaxies in its center.

Gravitational lensing, a technique whereby light from background distant sources gets deflected and follows multiple paths, helped astronomers to get a detailed look at the distribution of dark matter associated with the cluster galaxies. To everyone's surprise, the dark matter around at least one of these galaxies did not cluster around the galaxy's stars. The interpretation of this finding is still debated: Could be that gravitational forces within the cluster have warped the distribution of dark matter? Or, more speculatively, did the dark matter get displaced because it interact with itself? If the latter is correct, then the nature of dark matter just got a little less mysterious.

The PI for this research project is Richard Massey, Durham University, UK, and Liliya Williams, School of Physics and Astronomy, is the Co-PI. Additional data was obtained using the ESO's VLT.

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