Dark matter continues to pose important challenges to astronomers, as new observations suggest that this mysterious substance interacts only with gravity, but not with the rest of forces or with itself, contrary to what was postulated three years ago.
Professor Andrew Robertson, of the British University of Durham, presented the results of a study during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science that closed its doors on Friday in Liverpool (United Kingdom).
Three years ago, Robertson and his team studied the collision of four galaxies in the Abell 3827 cluster, 1.3 billion light-years from Earth, an event in which a cluster of dark matter seemed to be lagging behind the galaxy, which it surrounded. After these observations, the experts hypothesized that dark matter could interact with itself or with other forces outside the force of gravity, which could give clues as to what it is made of.
Scientists consider that only 4% of the universe is common matter, compared to 26% of dark matter, which has not yet been detected beyond its gravitational effects, but its presence is an essential factor in how the universe works.
Now, the same team of scientists has made their findings public based on recent observations that indicate that in the case of Abell 3827, dark matter had not separated from the galaxy.
These new observations and measures are consistent with the idea that dark matter may only interact with the force of gravity, said a statement from the University.
One of the authors of the study, Richard Massey, noted that “the search for dark matter is frustrating, but that is science. When the data improves, the conclusions may change.”
In any case, the “hunt” to reveal the nature of dark matter continues, said the expert, adding that since it does not interact with the universe that surrounds it, science is “finding it difficult to find out what it is”.
The latest data on Abell 3827 were collected using the ALMA radio telescope, located in the Chilean Atacama desert.
Professor of the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study, Liliya Williams, said that with the use of Alma, scientists now have images of higher resolution to observe distant galaxies than the ones provided by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Thus, the true position of dark matter “is much clearer than in previous observations”, when it seemed that it was lagging behind the galaxy.
In the last two years several new theories on dark matter have been presented and some have been simulated at the University of Durham using their supercomputers.