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Heart of Darkness

12 Mar 2009, 17:51 UTC
Heart of Darkness
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There's big news this week from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which peered into the heart of the Perseus galaxy cluster and found new evidence that galaxies are embedded in halos of dark matter. Specifically, the Hubble images revealed that a...There's big news this week from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which peered into the heart of the Perseus galaxy cluster and found new evidence that galaxies are embedded in halos of dark matter. Specifically, the Hubble images revealed that a large number of small galaxies within the Perseus cluster remained intact, while larger ones around them are ripped apart by the gravitational pull from other nearby galaxies. This implies that the intact galaxies are surrounded by a sort of "cushion" of dark matter that counters the gravitational effects from neighboring galaxies and keeps them from being ripped apart.Dark matter was first proposed a good 80 years ago, in 1933, by Fritz Zwicky, who found that individual galaxies within the Coma cluster were moving so fast that they should be able to escape the gravity of the visible mass. Since the cluster showed no signs of flying apart, he concluded that there must be more to the galactic mass than meets the ...

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