[thechat] Mysteries of the dark universe confound scientists
webguru at vsnl.net
Tue Jul 1 22:48:58 CDT 2003
According to a batch of new reports published in a special ``Welcome to the
Dark Side'' issue of the journal Science, most of the cosmos cannot be
seen, even with the most powerful telescopes. All but a tiny fraction of
creation consists of two exotic, invisible ingredients called ``dark energy
and ``dark matter.''
Astronomers admit they don't understand either of them.
``Cosmologists have no idea what the nature of the dark matter and the dark
energy may be,'' Jordi Miralda-Escude, an astronomer at Ohio State
University in Columbus, wrote in Science.
``We're stuck with this preposterous universe,'' said John Carlstrom, an
astrophysicist at the University of Chicago. ``It's a universe in which
ordinary matter, the stuff of which humans, stars and galaxies are made,
accounts for less than 5 percent of the universe's total mass and energy.''
Recently, Aaron Lewis, an astronomer at the University of
California-Irvine, reported that observations by an X-ray telescope
revealed a gigantic halo of dark matter, weighing as much as 100 trillion
of our suns, surrounding a cluster of galaxies known as Abell 2029, a
billion light-years from Earth. (A light-year is about 6 trillion miles.)
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