(Phys.org) -- Astronomers at the University of Zürich, the ETH Zurich, the University of Leicester and NAOC Beijing have found large amounts of invisible "dark matter" near the Sun. Their results are consistent with the theory that the Milky Way Galaxy is surrounded by a massive "halo" of dark matter, but this is the first study of its kind to use a method rigorously tested against mock data from high quality simulations. The authors also find tantalising hints of a new dark matter component in our Galaxy. The team's results will be published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-plenty-dark-sun.html#jCp
Dark Matter should not to be confused with Dark Energy, Dark Fluid (is an alternative theory to both Dark Matter and Dark Energy and attempts to explain both phenomena in a single framework), or Dark Flow (astrophysical term describing a peculiar velocity of galaxy clusters).
In astronomy and cosmology, dark matter is a type of matter hypothesized to account for a large part of the total mass in the universe. Dark matter cannot be seen directly with telescopes; evidently it neither emits nor absorbs light or other electromagnetic radiation at any significant level. Instead, its existence and properties are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation, and the large scale structure of the universe. Dark matter is estimated to constitute 84% of the matter in the universe and 23% of the mass-energy.
|Rotation curve of a typical spiral galaxy: |
predicted (A) and observed (B).
Dark matter can explain the 'flat' appearance
of the velocity curve out to a large radius
Dark matter came to the attention of astrophysicists due to discrepancies between the mass of large astronomical objects determined from their gravitational effects, and the mass calculated from the "luminous matter" they contain; such as stars, gas and dust. It was first postulated by Jan Oort in 1932 to account for the orbital velocities of stars in the Milky Way and Fritz Zwicky in 1933 to account for evidence of "missing mass" in the orbital velocities of galaxies in clusters. Subsequently, other observations have indicated the presence of dark matter in the universe, including the rotational speeds of galaxies, gravitational lensing of background objects by galaxy clusters such as the Bullet Cluster, and the temperature distribution of hot gas in galaxies and clusters of galaxies.
Although the existence of dark matter is generally accepted by the mainstream scientific community, several alternative theories have been proposed to try to explain the anomalies for which dark matter is intended to account.
from: wikipedia (click the link to know more)