Dark matter filament studied in 3-D for the first time

Oct 16, 2012
This enormous image shows Hubble’s view of massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745. The large field of view is a combination of 18 separate Hubble images. Studying the distorting effects of gravity on light from background galaxies, a team of astronomers has uncovered the presence of a filament of dark matter extending from the core of the cluster.  The location of the dark matter is revealed in a map of the mass in the cluster and surrounding region, shown here in blue. The filament visibly extends out and to the left of the cluster core. Using additional observations from ground-based telescopes, the team was able to map the filament’s structure in three dimensions, the first time this has ever been done. The filament was discovered to extend back from the cluster core, meaning we are looking along it. Credit: NASA, ESA, Harald Ebeling (University of Hawaii at Manoa) & Jean-Paul Kneib (LAM)

(Phys.org)—Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have studied a giant filament of dark matter in 3D for the first time. Extending 60 million light-years from one of the most massive galaxy clusters known, the filament is part of the cosmic web that constitutes the large-scale structure of the Universe, and is a leftover of the very first moments after the Big Bang. If the high mass measured for the filament is representative of the rest of the Universe, then these structures may contain more than half of all the mass in the Universe.

The theory of the Big Bang predicts that variations in the density of matter in the very first moments of the Universe led the bulk of the matter in the cosmos to condense into a web of tangled . This view is supported by of cosmic evolution, which suggest that the Universe is structured like a web, with long filaments that connect to each other at the locations of massive . However, these filaments, although vast, are made mainly of , which is incredibly difficult to observe.

The first convincing identification of a section of one of these filaments was made earlier this year. Now a team of astronomers has gone further by probing a filament's structure in three dimensions. Seeing a filament in 3D eliminates many of the pitfalls that come from studying the flat image of such a structure.

"Filaments of the cosmic web are hugely extended and very diffuse, which makes them extremely difficult to detect, let alone study in 3D," says Mathilde Jauzac (LAM, France and University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), lead author of the study.

The team combined high resolution images of the region around the cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 (or MACS J0717 for short), taken using Hubble, NAOJ's and the Canada-France-, with on the galaxies within it from the WM and the . Analysing these observations together gives a complete view of the shape of the filament as it extends out from the galaxy cluster almost along our line of sight.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This video shows a computer simulation of the dark matter filament's shape as it extends back from the cluster into the background. Note that while Hubble's determination of the 2D position of the galaxies is very accurate, measurements of distance in astronomy always contain a degree of uncertainty. Due to the scatter inherent in these measurements, the length and orientation of the filament as calculated by the scientists is derived from a statistical analysis – the accuracy of any individual galaxy's location is quite low. For the purposes of this illustration, the perspective has been slightly compressed to reduce the scatter in the galaxies' locations, while the dark matter filament is an artist's impression based on the scientists' models of the filament's structure.  Credit: NASA, ESA, L. Calçada 

The team's recipe for studying the vast but diffuse filament combines several crucial ingredients.

First ingredient: A promising target. Theories of suggest that galaxy clusters form where filaments of the cosmic web meet, with the filaments slowly funnelling matter into the clusters. "From our earlier work on MACS J0717, we knew that this cluster is actively growing, and thus a prime target for a detailed study of the cosmic web," explains co-author Harald Ebeling (University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA), who led the team that discovered MACS J0717 almost a decade ago.

Second ingredient: Advanced gravitational lensing techniques. Albert Einstein's famous theory of general relativity says that the path of light is bent when it passes through or near objects with a large mass. Filaments of the cosmic web are largely made up of dark matter which cannot be seen directly, but their mass is enough to bend the light and distort the images of galaxies in the background, in a process called gravitational lensing. The team has developed new tools to convert the image distortions into a mass map.

Third ingredient: High resolution images. Gravitational lensing is a subtle phenomenon, and studying it needs detailed images. Hubble observations let the team study the precise deformation in the shapes of numerous lensed galaxies. This in turn reveals where the hidden dark matter filament is located. "The challenge," explains co-author Jean-Paul Kneib (LAM, France), "was to find a model of the cluster's shape which fitted all the lensing features that we observed."

Finally: Measurements of distances and motions. Hubble's observations of the cluster give the best two-dimensional map yet of a filament, but to see its shape in 3D required additional observations. Colour images, as well as galaxy velocities measured with spectrometers, using data from the Subaru, CFHT, WM Keck, and Gemini North telescopes (all on Mauna Kea, Hawaii), allowed the team to locate thousands of galaxies within the filament and to detect the motions of many of them.

A model that combined positional and velocity information for all these galaxies was constructed and this then revealed the 3D shape and orientation of the filamentary structure. As a result, the team was able to measure the true properties of this elusive filamentary structure without the uncertainties and biases that come from projecting the structure onto two dimensions, as is common in such analyses.

The results obtained push the limits of predictions made by theoretical work and numerical simulations of the cosmic web. With a length of at least 60 million light-years, the MACS J0717 filament is extreme even on astronomical scales. And if its mass content as measured by the team can be taken to be representative of filaments near giant clusters, then these diffuse links between the nodes of the cosmic web may contain even more mass (in the form of dark matter) than theorists predicted. So much that more than half of all the mass in the Universe may be hidden in these structures.

The forthcoming NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018, will be a powerful tool for detecting filaments in the , thanks to its greatly increased sensitivity.

Explore further: Bright like a diamond: lasers and compressed carbon recreate Jupiter's core

More information: The research is presented in a paper entitled "A Weak-Lensing Mass Reconstruction of the Large-Scale Filament Feeding the Massive Galaxy Cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745", to be published in the 1 November 2012 issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The paper will be published online this week. (PDF)

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dogbert
2.2 / 5 (19) Oct 16, 2012
Simulations of simulations and statistical analyses, even to the point of simulating a 3D view. All to support the claim that gravity anomalies are due to dark matter.

There is no apparent limit to the efforts to convert this kludge into a belief.

cantdrive85
1.2 / 5 (17) Oct 16, 2012
That is a birkeland current, the filamentary and cellular nature of plasma is a distinctive trait of electrified plasma. Dark matter filament? Being "dark matter" is electromagnetically dead, unlike EVERY other bit of matter in the universe, how can the filamentary phenomenon exist? I wonder what the "gravity well" of a filamentary dark matter phenomenon looks like.

"We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture." Hannes Alfven

And imaginary conjecture we have attained!
GSwift7
4 / 5 (17) Oct 16, 2012
Well, when the theory predicts it to be so, and then you go make observations, and lo-and-behold the observations match the theory, by golly, maybe, just maybe the theory is right.

This isn't some kind of revolutionary finding. It's just more confirmation that our standard model is at least correct in a general sense. It means that we are probably on the right track for continued work.

If the theoretical implications of relativity continue to proove out, the implications are profound in regard to time travel, einstein-rosen bridges, etc. It's simply amazing what we clever little apes might one day be capable of.
A2G
2.1 / 5 (14) Oct 16, 2012
Seriously? Begin quote "Due to the scatter inherent in these measurements, the length and orientation of the filament as calculated by the scientists is derived from a statistical analysis – the accuracy of any individual galaxy's location is quite low. For the purposes of this illustration, the perspective has been slightly compressed to reduce the scatter in the galaxies' locations, while the dark matter filament is an artist's impression based on the scientists' models of the filament's structure."

So in the end we have an artist's impression. The DM religion keeps on going. How about just returning to science.

If they announced that we found this data and are trying to sort it out without calling it "dark matter" then all is fine. But this study and the results do not follow true scientific method.
A2G
2 / 5 (10) Oct 16, 2012
Cantdrive. Please stop saying Birkeland currents. I say this after years of doing plasma experiments. I have read all the EU stuff and although you guys have some very good points, birkleland currents are one of your errors. There are ways for these type of structures to form without birkeland currents.

They jump to DM. You jump to birkeland currents. Both wrong. You will see in November.
GSwift7
4.7 / 5 (15) Oct 16, 2012
That is a birkeland current, the filamentary and cellular nature of plasma is a...blah blah blah


There's no such thing. There's been dozens of observations in the past two decades that leave absolutely zero wiggle room for plasma cosmology/electric universe theory to be correct. That horse's coffin has been 6 feet under for a long time now, so stop trying to beat it. You sound like someone saying that the earth is flat, the sun and planets revolve around it, and the stars are all suspended on the celestial sphere.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (9) Oct 16, 2012
Plasma physicist Anthony Peratt, protege of Hannes Alfven, has no difficulty describing them as birkeland currents;
http://plasmauniv...smic.pdf

I am very impatient and I don't care to wait until Nov., what exactly do you propose the filamentary particle beam structures (that look remarkably like scaled up versions of laboratory birkeland currents) really are?
Q-Star
4.1 / 5 (14) Oct 16, 2012
A caveat for the folks that might pop in to read something that caught your interest:

"Plasma Cosmology" and "Electric Universe Theory" is pretty much dead in the water. It has been pretty much been retired except for a few die-hards who hang on because they don't understand physics and are too lazy to learn. Or a few petty miscreants who just like to argue for the odd and bizarre (professional sophists).

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Plasma, plasma, plasma, plasma ad infinitum, plasma ad nausium. Plasma is all, all is plasma.

GSwift7
4.6 / 5 (11) Oct 16, 2012
A caveat for the folks that might pop in to read something that caught your interest:

"Plasma Cosmology" and "Electric Universe Theory" is pretty much dead in the water. It has been pretty much been retired except for a few die-hards who hang on


You're being far too generous. EU theory ranks right alongside of the 2012 myan calendar end of the world theory. We might as well accept the giant turtle theory of the universe, or the russian nesting doll theory. We are all really just part of an atom in a giant marble in the pocket of a giant kid's pocket, who is in turn part of an atom in an even larger universe, and every atom in our body is its own universe.

Really, I think it's just turtles all the way down. (that's a somewhat famous quote, paraphrased. Free twinkies to anyone who knows where it came from.).
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (9) Oct 16, 2012
Here is a peer reviewed paper from 2011 that shows it's really the "standard theory" that is dead, beaten to an unrecognizable bloody pulp, and the 'Electric Universe' is live and well, supported by the data and observations of the late 20th and 21st century.

http://www.bentha...OAAJ.pdf
Q-Star
4.1 / 5 (14) Oct 16, 2012
Here is a peer reviewed paper from 2011 that shows it's really the "standard theory" that is dead, beaten to an unrecognizable bloody pulp, and the 'Electric Universe' is live and well, supported by the data and observations of the late 20th and 21st century.


Oh my, well if it's "peer reviewed",,,, unless your peers are graduates of the Art Bell University with PhD's in Metaphysical Gobbledegook & Pseudo-Science Sophistry then that might mean something.

Depends on who the peers are, and what they had to say when it was reviewed. Nice try though, that sort of jargon only works on late night radio listeners.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 16, 2012
Q, you must be one fast reader, less than a minute per page, nice. Typical reaction of the religious though, denialism through dogmatic belief.
Q-Star
4 / 5 (12) Oct 16, 2012
Q, you must be one fast reader, less than a minute per page, nice.


It doesn't take long to read the word "Bentham". They would allow me to publish a paper on Ptolemaic Astrophysics if I chose to.

Being "peer reviewed" I would expect that everyone get on-board with my "theory" of a geocentric universe and the epicycles that it predicts.

Typical reaction of the religious though, denialism through dogmatic belief.


As long as the dogma is founded on repeatedly consistent observations, and doesn't run contrary to known physics, I'll stick with "Hot Big Bang w/Cold Inflation" model. That model explains almost all of the observations.

"Electric Universe" and "Plasma Cosmology" latches on to rare exceptions or anomalies to explain the ALL. Much like an anthropologist who would describe the entire human species by only studying a "six foot ten inch, Downs Syndrome individuals with two club feet."

GSwift7
4.7 / 5 (12) Oct 16, 2012
Here is a peer reviewed paper from 2011 that shows it's really the "standard theory" that is dead


lol, I would seriously stop reading anything from Bentham publishing. They are a total joke. Only a person who can't get published in a real journal would publish there. There's a paper there that says they found traces of explosives in the World Trade Center debris. There's another one that supports something called 'dark fluid theory' as an alternative to standard cosmology.

A guy that works in the business of reviewing journals actualy sent in a paper that was auto-generated by a computer program. It had correct grammar structure but the body of the paper was complete nonsense. He sent it in to test their peer review process. They published it.

http://www.earlha...-at.html
Ober
1 / 5 (1) Oct 16, 2012
How about a cosmic string??? Anyone????
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (11) Oct 16, 2012
Yeah, and there exists a multi-billion dollar research industry based upon invisible monsters devouring everything, even light, matter that isn't there but "must" be, and an energy that can counter act the most stupendously variable force in the universe, gravity. Seems ridiculous to me.

"I have no trouble publishing in Soviet astrophysical journals, but my work is unacceptable to the American astrophysical journals."
[Referring to the trouble he had with the peer reviewers of Anglo-American astrophysical journals because his ideas often conflicted with the generally accepted or "standard" theories.]
— Hannes Alfvén

A2G
3.9 / 5 (7) Oct 16, 2012
Cantdrive85,

Again, I believe in plasma. I work with it. Do you? I also believe in electricity in the universe and that there is a lot of plasma. But the EU theory does not hold up. The EU camp makes all kinds of statements and claims, but I don't see any of them building galaxies, stars, suns, planets in orbit etc. You just go on and on about how stupid everyone is who does not see your theories.

Are you sure that you are not as blind as those you are calling blind. And since it is not your work, you are just going to have to wait until November. Too bad. Then you EU people may want to take down all your sites just as fast as you can and get back to your day jobs.

I am sorry if I seem abusive, but if you dish it out, you better be ready to truly back it up. If you EU folks so clearly know how it all works on just electricity, I don't understand why you haven't made a working plasma model of something. Anything. A magnetic sphere in a vacuum chamber proves nothing.
A2G
4.1 / 5 (9) Oct 16, 2012
Further, Plasma is really easy to manipulate in a vacuum chamber and despite the claims of no funding for plasma research from the EU camp there is currently a lot of research in plasma. Check General Fusion for instance. Not saying they have got it, but they are putting a lot into plasma research. Are you? I am and the EU approach is clouding the water for the real truth when it finally comes out, although I am sure the EU camp will probably claim they were right all along when it all comes down.

So the EU guys need to quit whining about not enough funding, etc. until you actually make something out of plasma that truly fits with your theories.

Total cost to make a vacuum chamber to allow for plasma experiments up to 100kv is under $20K. I know I did it. What is the EU excuse for not doing this if your theories are so correct?

For the last time. Please stop saying Birkeland currents. You are making yourself look really bad to those of us who really work with plasmas
A2G
4.5 / 5 (8) Oct 16, 2012
Cantdrive85 wrote:

"We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture." Hannes Alfven

I would suggest that you follow your own quote and quit writing until you have done some experiments for yourself to prove the EU theories. You don't want to go further into "imaginary conjecture."

I did my own experiments and followed where they led. Is that what you have honestly done? I don't see any proof of any EU based experiments anywhere. Why not? By the way. My funding is from my own pocket and I don't whine about no funding for me like the EU guys. I just went and did it. Why don't you try that? Then your "imaginary conjectures" will go away.
barakn
5 / 5 (11) Oct 16, 2012

"We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture." Hannes Alfven

This quote brought to you by cantdrive85, an individual who conjectured that electric currents responsible for creating hurricanes also heated the ocean. When it was pointed out that hurricanes cool the ocean, he did not abandon his conjecture in light of observational evidence. Instead he doubled down and invented an imaginary process by which electrical currents cool the ocean. http://phys.org/n...eam.html Talk about going astray. Take your own medicine, cantdrive85.
QuantumDelta
5 / 5 (2) Oct 16, 2012
Shocking.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (9) Oct 16, 2012
Do you understand anything you read barakn, or do you intentionally twist the words of others out of spite of being shown up. I provided a peer reviewed paper to answer every question you posed, but as with the rest of the dogmatic, your religious beliefs continue without regard to the presented facts.
barakn
5 / 5 (9) Oct 16, 2012
I read the paper, and pointed out that you misinterpreted it. I then waited patiently for a cogent rebuttal. Instead of that, I receive accusations of word twisting and dogmatism. If that paper contained somewhere in its 170 pages a mechanism by which electrical currents are moving water or are moving heat from one body of water to another, then the proper response on your part would have been to point out the specific evidence. Provide a page number or chapter and section number, for example. Or quote from it.
tony10cents
1 / 5 (2) Oct 16, 2012
dark tower 7 stephen king wheres my twinkies?
vega12
5 / 5 (2) Oct 17, 2012
Can't you see that nothing will convince cantdrive otherwise? cantdrive's only goal is clearly to derail real discussion and advertise his pet theory. My advice to you is to refrain from wasting your time replying to obvious trolling.

As for the article, it is always nice to see improvements being made in our understanding of the universe. When the mystery of dark matter is finally solved, it is observations like this that will help us look back and do a grand synthesis of all our observational data with any new information revealed about the nature of dark matter.
Urgelt
2.3 / 5 (4) Oct 17, 2012
These filaments sound an awful lot like the 'cosmic strings' idea that has been around for a few decades. If I remember correctly, the idea of cosmic strings is that the energy density during the early picoseconds of the Big Bang was high enough to create exotic filament-shaped singularities with very high masses. The strings would be very long in one dimension but infinitesimal in the other two, and would possess an event horizon around the length of the string.

But we don't detect radiation resulting from matter infalling to the strings; all we've found thus far are point sources suggestive of black hole singularities.

So one big question to answer might be, how do you pack so much mass into filaments and yet see no radiation evidence of infalling matter along the filaments' event horizons?

Exotic stuff, indeed.
GSwift7
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 17, 2012
So one big question to answer might be, how do you pack so much mass into filaments and yet see no radiation evidence of infalling matter along the filaments' event horizons?


You are talking about something like String Theory, but the above article is not. The 'filaments' they are talking about aren't singularities. Thier mass is spread out over such large areas that it's difficult to actually call them an object. If you were in the middle of one, you wouldn't know it. They are made of whatever dark matter is made of, but think of it like clouds of dust that are several galaxies wide and they stretch accross intergalactic space from one galaxy cluster to another. The concentration of mass is barely detectable, and only from a distance. If you were inside it, you shouldn't be able to detect it. In theory, our local cluster of galaxies is probably inside the nexus where one or more of these joins. They are barely more than vaccum, but they are so big that it adds up.
rubberman
1 / 5 (2) Oct 17, 2012
I am patient and will wait until November. Are we waiting for a theory based on things we can BOTH measure AND identify?
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2012
Here is a peer reviewed paper from 2011 ...


Here is an offer from the same site:

"This opportunity will entitle authors from different member institutes to a special discount of 30% in the open access publication fee for submission of articles to Bentham OPEN journals."

The journals are free to read, but you pay to have your article published, and a "peer reviewer" who turns away business isn't going to be on their list of reviewers for long.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2012
These filaments sound an awful lot like the 'cosmic strings' idea that has been around for a few decades.
The string theorists are looking for something quite different, but I do agree with you, there is nothing else to find in this connection, than just dark matter fibbers. This is the similar story like with branes, extradimensions and another stuffs predicted or assumed with string theorists. These things are all around us, but because these guys don't understand even their own theory - which is overly schematic in addition - they cannot recognize them in well known phenomena. The most important point here is, the cosmic strings are hyperdimensional objects actually, which we are observing from low-dimensional perspective: such an objects always do appear shorter and more fuzzy, then they would appear from their own perspective.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (5) Oct 20, 2012
In AWT the dark matter fibbers are gravitational shadows of gallaxies. When two or more massive galaxies are in single line, then the shielding of longitudinal waves is attenuated. It corresponds the appearance of dark matter strings, which contain the galaxies like the prayer beads along the rosary. The similar effect, just weaker happens at the short scale during eclipse and conjuctions of planets (Allais effect). The area of gravitational wave shielding both attracts both creates the solitons of gravitational waves (i.e. the neutrinos) from the vacuum and it gradually materializes in this way. These fibers are formed with particles of darkness so to say, they're mostly formed with antimatter.
Ober
3 / 5 (4) Oct 20, 2012
WOW, I'm really getting tired of the negativity ppl bring to posts these days. What ever happened to people throwing around ideas, and talking about possibilities?? Seems whenever someone thinks outisde the box, they get cut down!!! This is not how science should be. Sure an idea may be total BS, but discuss the idea, and more ideas may flow from this!!!
Personally I love sitting down with people over a few drinks and talking through all the WHAT IFs. See what other ppl think, and see if there ideas fit with your own, or known theory.
I just hate the way the internet is these days, where attacking ppl's ideas is more common than intelligent discussion and debate.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2012
WOW, I'm really getting tired of the negativity ppl bring to posts these days. What ever happened to people throwing around ideas, and talking about possibilities?? Seems whenever someone thinks outisde the box, they get cut down!!! .. I just hate the way the internet is these days, where attacking ppl's ideas is more common than intelligent discussion and debate.


The difference is that the internet has made science accessible to everyone. There used to be such discussions over coffee tables between scientists who already knew the bounds of our understanding and the experimental evidence that had led to that state, they discussed ideas about what was then the unknown.

These groups are open to the public who have not done that detailed study and the "out of the box" ideas being thrown around here are nonsense at odds with experimental results, the established facts which define "the box". To call it pseudo-science is polite.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2012
the "out of the box" ideas being thrown around here are nonsense at odds with experimental results
My ideas aren't indeed in contradiction of experimental results, until you prove the opposite (you're indeed welcomed to prove it so). On the contrary - I'm extrapolating all latest finding very carefully here. Therefore the only relevant objection of yours against "out of the box" is solely unsubstantial, until you prove the opposite. All the rest of your post is just a religious demagogy. It's symptomatic, most of my posts are downvoted with ""lite account", who even doesn't participate into discussion (it's probably sock-puppet account). It just illustrates the willingness of mainstream science proponents to the discussion of new ideas.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2012
the "out of the box" ideas being thrown around here are nonsense at odds with experimental results
My ideas aren't indeed in contradiction of experimental results,


I haven't seen any new ideas in your posts. Have a look at the electric universe stuff or the guy who thought quasars were being pulled backwards through the universe at three times the speed of light.

You keep talking about Lodge's vague handwaving about the aether from a century ago, and Fatio's mechanism for Newtonian gravity
from three centuries ago. The latter contradicts the fact that the planet hasn't been vaporised by the heat that would result.

On the contrary - I'm extrapolating all latest finding very carefully here.


ROFL, you're just trying to quote other people without understanding what the original papers, or even most of the jargon terms mean. What you post on modern science is laughable, examples of what is commonly known as "word salad".
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) Oct 21, 2012
What you post on modern science is laughable, examples of what is commonly known as "word salad".

My personal take on this is that ValeriaT (who's just the umpteenth sockpuppet of Zephyr, because he gets banned for his incessant trolling with his pseudo-science) is just using something akin to the postmodern essay generator.

As such he doesn't even pass the turing test.