Research, Technology

Astrophysicists have discovered "bridges" of dark matter. What it is?

Earlier this year, we talked about the new mapdark matter, the creation of which is largely due to artificial intelligence (AI). This detailed map shows previously undiscovered filamentary structures that connect galaxies. The advances in AI are helping scientists, who are using it to create yet another map of dark matter, this time in a local universe covering a much smaller area. It is also interesting that the creation of such an incredibly accurate map can lead to a new understanding of dark matter and finally bring clarity about the future of our Universe. The map contains previously unknown "hidden bridges" that connect galaxies, and also shows previously unknown "bridges" due to which all galaxies in the local Universe are connected into a single network of threadlike structures. Scientists hope that their map, published along with their article in the scientific journal Astrophysical journal, will be able to provide a new insight into dark matter and the history of our universe.

Scientists find dark matter "bridges" that could reveal the future of our galaxy

Dark matter skeleton

The existence of a mysterious substance occupyingabout 85% of all matter in the universe is not proven today. At the same time, more and more scientists have no doubt that dark matter does exist. This situation can be compared with gravitational waves, the existence of which Albert Einstein predicted, but they were discovered several years ago.

You can read more about the discovery of gravitational waves in a fascinating article by my colleague Artem Sutyagin

The history of the existence of dark matter began,of course, after the publication of the general theory of relativity (GR) 106 years ago. A little later, astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that galaxies were moving away from Earth (and from each other) at an ever-increasing speed. Over the next decades, such outstanding minds as Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Louis de Broglie, Werner Heisenberg and others worked on the creation of quantum theory.

The same congress:V Solvay Congress (1927): 1st row (from left to right): Irving Langmuir, Max Planck, Marie Curie, Hendrik Lorenz, Albert Einstein, Paul Langevin, Charles Guy, Charles Wilson, Owen Richardson. 2nd row (from left to right): Peter Debye, Martin Knudsen, William Bragg, Hendrik Kramers, Paul Dirac, Arthur Compton, Louis de Broglie, Max Born, Niels Bohr. Standing (from left to right): Auguste Piccard, Emile Henriot, Paul Ehrenfest, Eduard Herzen, Théophile de Donder, Erwin Schrödinger, Jules Emile Vershafelt, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Ralph Fowler, Leon Brillouin.

While directly observing dark matterimpossible, since it does not enter into electromagnetic interaction with photons, it is a generally accepted concept. Scientists have made many conclusions about the existence and behavior of dark matter by observing its gravitational influence to other space objects.

Cosmologists believe that dark matter servesthe filamentous skeleton of the cosmic network, which, in turn, constitutes the large-scale structure of the Universe, partially controlling the movement of galaxies and other cosmic systems.

More on the topic: Our Universe is getting hotter, scientists find

Another difficult task is directmeasuring the distribution of dark matter in our local universe, so in the course of the work astrophysicists used artificial intelligence to create a new map.

"Local universe", into which we also enter,is an area with a radius of about 1 billion light years, where galaxies and associated space objects "essentially frozen in their present configurations," and the effects of cosmic evolution are negligible, astronomers explain.

As one of the authors of the scientificIn the work of Donghui Jeong, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Pennsylvania, studying the distribution of dark matter is much easier in the most distant objects, since they accurately reflect the incredibly distant past of our universe. “Over time, as the large-scale structure of the universe has grown, the complexity of the universe has increased, so it is inherently more difficult to measure dark matter locally,” the study authors write.

A map of dark matter in the local universe.

In the image above, the finer threadlikeobjects (yellow) act as hidden bridges between galaxies. The gravitational influence of dark matter on galaxies is indicated by black dots. The characteristic features of the universe are shown with red dots, and the cross marks the Milky Way.

Read even more interesting articles on our channel in Yandex.Zen! There are regularly published articles that are not on the site!

New dark matter map

So, the space web maps created earlier arewere based on modeling the evolution of the Universe over 13.8 billion years to the present day. These efforts required a huge amount of computation and, in fact, did not provide an accurate idea of ​​the local universe, which prompted researchers to develop a new approach.

For the new map, they focused onusing machine learning to create a model based on the distribution and movement of galaxies. This allowed them to assess how dark matter is distributed.

Large scale map of the universe at its finest

AI has been trained to simulate galaxies similar toMilky Way, via Illustris-TNG - an ongoing series of simulations featuring galaxies, dark matter, gases and other matter. As the authors of the scientific paper explained to reporters, if you enter specific information into the model, it can fill in the gaps, relying on already processed data. Scientists additionally confirmed the mapping by applying it to real local data of galaxies from the Cosmicflows-3 catalog, which contains information on the distances of almost 18 thousand galaxies.

This is interesting: Can gravitational waves resolve the crisis of cosmology?

Hidden bridges

The map obtained by the researchers is amazing.Just think, for the first time we can consider the basic structures in the local Universe, including the Milky Way. Astrophysicists have also described nearby galaxies and a "local void" - a nearby region of empty space. Moreover, the map allowed scientists to discover new structures.

In particular, they hope to study in more detail the small filamentous structures they have discovered that seem to link galaxies together. The researchers called them "hidden bridges."

Jeong believes these threads can givean idea of ​​the future of our Galaxy. One specific question that deserves attention is whether the Milky Way will eventually collide with the Andromeda galaxy.

Cosmic threadlike structures and us. Which are tiny, right?

"Since dark matter dominates the dynamics of the universe, it largely determines our destiny," the study authors say.

Thus, astrophysicists can "ask"a computer to develop a map for billions of years to see what will happen in the local universe. What's more, they can now create a new model to literally take a virtual journey back in time. Further research will definitely make our maps more accurate, and the amount of new data on galaxies from new astronomical studies is staggering. So, at times interesting are waiting for us, friends. Well, read about whether it is possible to travel in time in this article, I hope you enjoy it.