Saturday science subject: Dark matter

— 4:59 PM on August 26, 2006

Scientists at NASA say they have uncovered definite proof of the existence of dark matter. Dark matter is theorized to be matter that doesn't emit enough radiation to be detected directly. Scientists believe dark matter is responsible for a number of phenomena in the universe, including the rotational velocity of stars inside galaxies, which doesn't conform to Newtonian physics. The NASA researchers' proof of the existence of dark matter was uncovered as follows:

The breakthrough came using data from NASA's orbiting Chandra X-Ray Observatory and involved information from what researchers called the most massive release of detected energy in the universe since the big bang.

Scientists said that the "bullet cluster," formed by a collision between an enormous cluster of galaxies more than 3 billion light-years away and a smaller galaxy cluster, demonstrated the existence of dark matter. In effect, the collision stripped the dark matter away from visible matter. Once stripped, dark matter was clearly identified by the strong gravitational pull that it exerted.

A counter theory to the concept of dark matter suggests that the laws of gravity as established by Einstein and Newton are inaccurate and need to be changed. However, Doug Clowe, leader of the NASA-Harvard study, says these new results are "direct proof that dark matter exists." More about the researchers' findings can be found here.
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