Dark matter is still a rather mysterious subject, but a new discovery can lead researchers to learn more about it. By looking at images of galaxy clusters taken as part of the Hubble Frontier Fields project, researchers at the University of New South Wales discovered a new method for tracking dark matter distribution. This discovery can very well offer new insights into what dark material is.
Although dark matter is a phrase that you often often hear when it comes to space discussion, it is something we still haven't observed in our universe directly. Yet many scholars accept the hypothesis that dark matter does not only exist, but constitutes the vast majority of matter in the universe, so that they constantly search for traces that can lead to a breakthrough. One of these traces emerges from the intracluster light that develops around tightly packed areas of galaxies.
In a newsletter discussing this discovery, NASA describes intraclastic lights as "the diffuse glow between galaxies in a cluster." In research published in Monthly announcements from the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers at the University of New South Wales say intracluster light tracks the distribution of dark matter, and it does so with more accuracy than traditional measurement methods.
Study co-author Mireia Montes told NASA that this discovery is exciting partly because it is a more effective way to track dark matter as well. While scientists typically use spectroscopy to measure dark matter, this method requires only Hubble's and other telescopes' deep image functions. Therefore, the process of studying intracluster light will speed up, and we will probably be able to learn more about dark material in less time.
From here, the group of scientists responsible for this plan plans to return to the original six galaxy clusters they studied to see if the accuracy of this method ceases within a larger observation radius. They will also take a look at deep imaging from other space telescopes and see if this dark material tracking method can work on the scale of an individual galaxy. The hope is that this discovery will accelerate our learning when it comes to dark material, so watch out for more.