When we look up at the sky, we can pick out the constellations like the Big Dipper or Orion’s Belt but what we can’t see is something scientists call dark matter.

It is a giant blob of invisible black stuff. It does not produce light or reflect it which makes it impossible to see with the human eye. Scientists using very powerful instruments study dark matter because there is about 5 times as much of it as there is ordinary matter like the Earth, planets and stars.

Scientists recently presented new maps of the universe where dark matter exists. How did they map something that they can’t see? They observed how it affected things that they COULD see. Because dark matter has gravity, it pulls on everything around it.

Using specialized telescopes, scientists looked for light that could shine through from another galaxy. By studying how the light changed as it went through space, they estimated the dark matter’s location and shape. And, although they confirmed that it resides with big galaxies, scientists plan to keep studying and mapping the sky to understand even more about the dark matter.

For more information, visit www.scienceforkids.org

Content provided by Oakland University


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