PHOTOS: Hubble's Latest Mind Blowing Cosmic Pictures
There's strong link between globular clusters and dark matter, and with the help of Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, researchers have found that groups of globular clusters (such as the population found inside Abell 1689) act as a tracer for the presence of dark matter.
"We show how the relationship between globular clusters and dark matter depends on the distance from the center of the galaxy grouping," said Karla Alamo-Martinez, of the Center for Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Morelia. "In other words, if you know how many globular clusters are within a certain distance, we can give you an estimate of the amount of dark matter."
PHOTOS: Hubble Logs Millionth Observation
"The globular clusters are fossils of the earliest star formation in Abell 1689, and our work shows they were very efficient in forming in the denser regions of dark matter near the center of the galaxy cluster," said John Blakeslee, of National Research Council Canada's Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, British Columbia, and team leader. "Our findings are consistent with studies of globular clusters in other galaxy clusters, but extend our knowledge to regions of higher dark matter density."
The light from the 10,000 newly discovered globular clusters are 1 one-billionth of the brightness of the faintest star you can see in the night sky.
A paper detailing this discovery will be published in the Sept. 20 edition of The Astrophysical Journal.