The distribution of dark matter on a scale of 30,000 light-years, in details never seen before, new research published in the journal “The Astrophysical Journal”. This research is an important step towards elucidating the true nature of dark matter.

Mysterious dark matter accounts for most of the matter in the Universe. However, dark matter is invisible and only known through its gravitational effects. It has never been isolated in a laboratory, so researchers must rely on experiments to study it. One type of experiment is gravitational lensing. Sometimes two objects at different distances in the Universe lie along the same line of sight when viewed from the Earth. When this happens, the spatial curvature caused by the matter around the foreground object acts like a lens, bending the path of light from the background object.

A group of Japanese researchers used it ALMA telescope to study the gravitational lensing system known as MG J0414+0534, formed by an elliptical galaxy and a quasar, and located in the direction of the constellation Taurus as seen from Earth. Its distance quasar from Earth is estimated at 11 billion light years.

In this system the foreground object forms not one, but four images of the background object due to the gravitational force of a massive galaxy acting on the light. With the help of a new method of analyzing the data, the team was able to detect variations in the distribution of dark matter with greater resolution than ever before, on a scale of 30,000 light years.