An international team of the Dark Energy Survey researchers (DES) has created the universe's new largest dark matter map. To do this, they analyzed 100 million galaxies.

A new map of the universe's dark matter
Image: Dark Energy Survey

Dark matter is an invisible matter that permeates space. Dark matter accounts for approximately 80% of the matter in the universe. Researchers had already published a map of the distribution of dark matter in 2017, when they explored 26 million galaxies.

For the new map, scientists used the Víctor M. Blanco Telescope in Chile to analyze 100 million galaxies with the help of artificial intelligence.

Astronomers can figure out where dark matter is located. If the light from distant stars is distorted, this means that there is matter that bends the light—the greater the distortion, the greater the dark matter’s concentration.

The new map covers a quarter of the sky in the southern hemisphere, an eighth of the entire night sky visible from Earth. The map shows how dark matter is distributed throughout the universe. The distribution of matter was visualized in pink, purple and black colors. The light ring on the map represents the Milky Way.

The New Atlas of the Universe Includes a Million New Galaxies
The news data will allow scientists to perform statistical analyses of large galaxy populations.

The brightest areas on the map show the densest places of the dark galaxy (there are the largest clusters of galaxies and dark matter), and the black spots are cosmic voids, areas with a low density of matter.

Scientists are interested in these structures because they assume that gravity may behave differently there. The map can be the first step to exploring the voids.