The intricate cosmic web of dark matter and galaxies spanning more than one billion light years. The pink-yellow plumes seen with gravitational lensing show us where the dark matter is.
The Canada France Hawaii Lensing Survey
Did you know that less than 4% of our Universe is made up of regular matter - the type that makes up the Earth, the planets and the stars? The rest is 'dark' and invisible, but we know that it is there through its effects on the regular matter that we can see. The gravity of Dark Matter causes galaxies to clump together in a giant cosmic web, and Dark Energy is pushing space itself apart at an accelerated rate. With some of the world's best telescopes we can directly witness the ongoing battle between these two strange entities. To understand this mysterious 'dark sector' of our Universe, we may have to invoke exciting new physics which would forever change our view of the Universe.
The Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Lensing Survey uses an innovative technique called gravitational lensing to observe the invisible dark matter in our Universe. Using data accumulated over five years by the CFHT Legacy Survey, the CFHTLenS team have analysed the images of over 10 million galaxies. The light emitted by these galaxies has taken nearly half the age of the Universe to reach us and has been bent and distorted by the massive clumps of dark matter it has passed by. Exploiting this fact that 'mass bends light', as predicted by Einstein, we have privileged access to the mysterious components of the Universe that cannot otherwise be observed.
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Author: Emma Grocutt