Dark matter may be having an even bigger impact on the Universe than previously thought, after scientists found the first signs that it interacts with something other than gravity.
Although nobody knows what dark matter is, it is believed to make up about 85 per cent of the Universe’s mass, keeping stars and planets in their galaxies.
Dark matter cannot be seen but it’s huge impact can be viewed through telescopes because it bends light around galaxies creating a ring of star light known as gravitational lensing.
However, for the first time scientists at Durham University have seen an unusual bend in one of the rings of light, suggesting that a clump of dark matter is out of alignment with its galaxy.
It indicates that a force other than gravity is stopping it sitting in its rightful place.
“We used to think that dark matter sits around, minding its own business,” said Dr Richard Massey, at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology.
“But if it slowed down, this could be the first evidence that dark matter notices the world around it.
“It’s really very exciting. Dark matter may not be completely ‘dark’ after all. Perhaps its interacting very weakly with clouds of gas and what we’re made of.”
Researchers made the discovery using the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope to view the simultaneous collision of four distant galaxies at the centre of a galaxy cluster 1.3 billion light years away from Earth.
They found that one dark matter clump appeared to be lagging behind the galaxy it surrounds.
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SOURCE: The Telegraph, Sarah Knapton