Researchers discover mysterious ‘cosmic bridge’ that connects galaxies

Scientists have discovered the existence of a cosmic web that indicates galaxies across the universe are connected by bridges.

Scientists have made another impressive discovery, proving that the universe is far more mysterious than we ‘ve ever imagined. Observations of over 23,000 galaxy pairs has allowed astronomers to pinpoint a dark matter bridge that connects them.

For the first time ever, experts have snapped an image of the ‘elusive dark matter bridge’ that connects different galaxies across the cosmos.

Until now scientists only speculated that such a ‘cosmic web’ may exist, as it has remained unobservable until now.

Scientists published their work in a new article in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Dark matter filaments bridge the space between galaxies in this false color map. The locations of bright galaxies are shown by the white regions and the presence of a dark matter filament bridging the galaxies is shown in red. Credit: S. Epps & M. Hudson / University of Waterloo

The composite image—composed of observations of over 23,000 galaxy pairs—confirms predictions that galaxies across the Universe are linked to each other, through a cosmic network connected by dark matter.

Dark matter is a mysterious substance comprising about 27 percent of the universe. It does not shine, absorb or reflect light, which makes it largely undetectable. Only based on its interactions with visible matter, scientists can infer its existence.

However, researchers from the University of Waterloo were able to measure an effect known as weak gravitational lensing by using numerous images from a multi-year sky survey at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

Gravitational lensing makes faraway galaxies seem distorted due to an unseen mass such as a planet, a black hole, or in this case dark matter.

Researchers essentially used lensing images from thousands of galaxies located some 4.5 billion light-years away, in order to reveal the mysterious presence of ‘dark matter’ connecting them.

“For decades, researchers have been predicting the existence of dark matter filaments between galaxies that act like a web-like superstructure connecting galaxies together,” said researcher Mike Hudson.

“This image moves us beyond predictions to something we can see and measure.”

As noted by Science Alert, not only is the images just aesthetically pleasing, it reveals several mind-bending features which would otherwise be difficult to detect.

The composite images show the existence of a COSMIC WEB for the first time.

The newly obtained—false color—map depicts bright galaxies as a white region while dark matter bridges are illustrated in red.

New observations allowed astronomers to create a map depicting the bridges while it allowed them to find that the phenomenon is strongest in systems that are located less than 40 million light years apart.

“By using this technique, we’re not only able to see that these dark matter filaments in the universe exist, we’re able to see the extent to which these filaments connect galaxies together,” said Epps.

Source: Waterloo researchers capture first “image” of a dark matter web that connects galaxies

Featured image credit: Volker Springel, Aquarius Simulation


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