Okay, just one more entry before I head off! This image of a 2.6-million light-year-wide ring of dark matter, surrounding a cluster of galaxies, is too incredible to pass up.
To see a gorgeous, full-sized image of it, look to Astronomy Picture of the Day.
For further explanation, read the news report at space.com. One thing they don’t say there that they do say on the APOD page is that the large blue ring is a digital modeling that has been superimposed over the Hubble image. I’m a little puzzled at the discrepancy there, and am not sure at this point whether the blue cloud is entirely a false-color representation or not. It must be, though, because the thing about dark matter is that it’s, well, dark. You can’t see it. (Except in a scene late in my novel Sunborn, but that’s another matter.)
To get a better grasp of the science behind the conclusion, check out this short Hubblecast video, which describes the gravitational lensing effect that actually supports the thesis that this really is dark matter being depicted and not just some camera artifact.
In a complete change of subject, I’ll just note the passing of Jerry Falwell, who probably did more to promote the cause of bigotry and intolerance in our society than just about anyone claiming (in a chillingly distorted way) the banner of Christianity. I don’t wish him ill; but I do hope he’s seeing things a little differently now.
“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts—such is the duty of the artist.”
—Robert A. Schumann