Skip to comments.Astroboffins map GIANT MASS of dark matter
Posted on 10/18/2012 9:31:59 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Dark matter can't really be "seen" as such, it can only be detected by looking at the gravitational effects it has on the space around it. But by collating images from the Hubble Space telescope, the researchers now have a picture of dark matter (shown in blue above) extending 60 million light-years away from one of the most massive galaxy clusters astrophysicists know about MACS J0717.
Big Bang theories predict that when the universe was first created, dense matter condensed into a web of tangled dark matter filaments throughout the universe, a process they've mapped in computer simulations. But it's not easy to spot these filaments in space.
Filaments of the cosmic web are hugely extended and very diffuse, which makes them extremely difficult to detect, let alone study in 3D, said the study's lead author, Mathilde Jauzac of LAM in France and University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
The cluster was chosen because theories of cosmic evolution say that that's where filaments of the cosmic web should meet. The team then developed new tools to convert image distortions, caused by dark matter filaments' mass bending light, into a mass map.
The boffins combined images taken all around the galaxy cluster using Hubble, Japan's Subaru Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope along with spectroscopic data from WM Keck and Gemini Observatories to figure out the shape of the filament. Their paper, A Weak-Lensing Mass Reconstruction of the Large-Scale Filament Feeding the Massive Galaxy Cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745, will be published in the online issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society this week.®
I was wondering what happened to Oprah.
"Many boffins died to bring us this information."
Oooh, thanks for those links, will check out.
A boffin is a stock character in United Kingdom culture: a scientist, engineer, or other person engaged in technical or scientific research. The original World War II conception of war-winning researchers means that the character tends to have a more positive aspect than related characterisations.
Originally, the word was armed-forces slang for a technician or research scientist. The origins and etymology of boffin are otherwise obscure. It has been variously proposed that:
The word comes from a name of a restaurant in East Anglia. From 1938 and during World War II, the British scientists developing radar frequented an eatery called Boffin’s.
Like sigint (signals intelligence), it was a six-character term popularized during WWII derived from “back office intelligence”, indicating the origins of a particular item of information.
It rhymes with puffin, a bird that is both serious and comical at the same time.
It was a word for older naval officers (over age thirty-two; see C. Graves, Life Line, 1941) who apparently were termed Boffins in the Royal Navy.
It was inspired by the Heath Robinson-esque appearance of the Blackburn Baffin aircraft of 1932.
It was derived from Nicodemus Boffin, a fictional character who appears in Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, a dustman who is described there as a “very odd looking old fellow”. This theory was proposed by linguist Eric Partridge.
The word also made a few other appearances in literature prior to World War II. J.R.R. Tolkien used Boffin as a surname for a hobbit family in The Hobbit (1937), and a Sergeant Boffin appears in Mr. Bliss (written circa 1932). William Morris has a man called Boffin meet the newly-arrived time traveler in his novel News from Nowhere (1890).