[thechat] Mysteries of the dark universe confound scientists

Madhu Menon 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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