Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Dark matter maps reveal cosmic scaffolding

Abstract

Ordinary baryonic particles (such as protons and neutrons) account for only one-sixth of the total matter in the Universe1,2,3. The remainder is a mysterious ‘dark matter’ component, which does not interact via electromagnetism and thus neither emits nor reflects light. As dark matter cannot be seen directly using traditional observations, very little is currently known about its properties. It does interact via gravity, and is most effectively probed through gravitational lensing: the deflection of light from distant galaxies by the gravitational attraction of foreground mass concentrations4,5. This is a purely geometrical effect that is free of astrophysical assumptions and sensitive to all matter—whether baryonic or dark6,7. Here we show high-fidelity maps of the large-scale distribution of dark matter, resolved in both angle and depth. We find a loose network of filaments, growing over time, which intersect in massive structures at the locations of clusters of galaxies. Our results are consistent with predictions of gravitationally induced structure formation8,9, in which the initial, smooth distribution of dark matter collapses into filaments then into clusters, forming a gravitational scaffold into which gas can accumulate, and stars can be built10.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Map of the dark matter distribution in the two-square-degrees COSMOS field.
Figure 2: Sensitivity of probes of large-scale structure, as a function of distance.
Figure 3: Comparison of baryonic and non-baryonic large-scale structure.
Figure 4: Growth of large-scale structure.
Figure 5: Three-dimensional reconstruction of the dark matter distribution.

References

  1. Zwicky, F. Die Rotverschiebung von extragalaktischen Nebeln. Helv. Phys. Acta 6, 110–127 (1933)

    ADS  MATH  Google Scholar 

  2. Bergstrom, L. Nonbaryonic dark matter: observational evidence and detection methods. Rep. Prog. Phys. 63, 793–841 (2003)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Clowe, D. et al. A direct empirical proof of the existence of dark matter. Astrophys. J. 648, L109–L113 (2006)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Blandford, R., Saust, A., Brainerd, T. & Villumsen, J. The distortion of distant galaxies by large-scale structure. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 251, 600–627 (1991)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Kaiser, N. Weak gravitational lensing of distant galaxies. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 388, 272–286 (1992)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Bartelmann, M. & Schneider, P. Weak gravitational lensing. Phys. Rep. 340, 291–472 (2001)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Refregier, A. Weak gravitational lensing by large-scale structure. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 41, 645–668 (2004)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Davis, M., Efstathiou, G., Frenk, C. & White, S. The evolution of large-scale structure in a universe dominated by cold dark matter. Astrophys. J. 292, 371–394 (1985)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Springel, V. et al. Simulating the joint evolution of quasars, galaxies and their large-scale distribution. Nature 435, 629–636 (2005)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Dekel, A. & Lahav, O. Stochastic nonlinear galaxy biasing. Astrophys. J. 520, 24–34 (1999)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Scoville, N. et al. COSMOS: Hubble Space Telescope observations. Astrophys. J. (in the press).

  12. Leauthaud, A. et al. COSMOS: ACS galaxy catalog. Astrophys. J. (submitted).

  13. Schneider, P., van Waerbeke, L. & Mellier, Y. B-modes in cosmic shear from source redshift clustering. Astron. Astrophys. 389, 729–741 (2002)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. Hasinger, G. et al. The XMM-Newton wide-field survey in the COSMOS field: I. Survey description. Astrophys. J. (in the press).

  15. Guzzo, G. et al. A large-scale stucture at z=0.73 and the relation of galaxy morphologies to local environment. Astrophys. J. (submitted).

  16. Shen, J., Abel, T., Mo, H. & Sheth, R. An excursion set model of the cosmic web: the abundance of sheets, filaments, and halos. Astrophys. J. 645, 783–791 (2006)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. Massey, R. et al. Weak lensing from space: II. Dark matter mapping. Astron. J. 127, 3089–3101 (2004)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  18. Bacon, D. & Taylor, A. Mapping the 3D dark matter potential with weak shear. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 344, 1307–1326 (2003)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  19. Taylor, A. et al. Mapping the 3D dark matter with weak lensing in COMBO-17. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 353, 1176–1196 (2003)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  20. Saunders, W. et al. Density and velocity fields from the PSCz survey. In Towards an Understanding of Cosmic Flows (eds Courteau S., Strauss M. & Willick, J) ASP Conf. Ser. 201, 228–236 (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 1999)

    Google Scholar 

  21. Rhodes, J., Refregier, A. & Groth, E. Weak lensing measurements: a revisited method and application to Hubble Space Telescope images. Astrophys. J. 536, 79–100 (2000)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  22. Kaiser, N. & Squires, G. Mapping the dark matter with weak gravitational lensing. Astrophys. J. 404, 441–450 (1993)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  23. Starck, J.-L. & Murtagh, F. Astronomical Image and Data Analysis 2nd edition (Springer, Heidelberg, 2006)

    Book  Google Scholar 

  24. Starck, J.-L., Pires, S. & Refregier, A. Weak lensing mass reconstruction using wavelets. Astron. Astrophys. 451, 1139–1150 (2006)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  25. Hopkinson, G., Dale, C. & Marshall, P. Proton effects in charge-coupled devices. IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci. 43, 614–627 (1996)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Rhodes, J. et al. Removing the effects of the Advanced Camera for Surveys point spread function. Astrophys. J. (submitted).

  27. Capak, P. et al. Photometric redshifts of galaxies in COSMOS. Astrophys. J. (submitted).

  28. Benítez, N. Bayesian photometric redshift estimation. Astrophys. J. 536, 571–583 (2000)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  29. Mobasher, B. et al. The first release COSMOS optical and near-IR data and catalog. Astrophys. J. (submitted).

  30. Steidel, C. et al. A study of star-forming galaxies in the 1.4<z<2.5 redshift desert: overview. Astrophys. J. 604, 534–550 (2004)

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA). We also used data collected from: the XMM-Newton, an ESA science mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA member states and NASA; the Subaru Telescope, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan; the European Southern Observatory, Chile; the Kitt Peak National Observatory, the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which are operated by AURA under cooperative agreement with the American National Science Foundation; the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is a facility of the American National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.; and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope operated by the National Research Council of Canada, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique de France and the University of Hawaii. The photometric redshifts used here were validated using spectra from the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope zCOSMOS survey. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the entire COSMOS collaboration, consisting of more than 70 scientists. We thank T. Roman, D. Taylor and D. Soderblom for help scheduling the extensive COSMOS observations; and A. Laity, A. Alexov, B. Berriman and J. Good for managing online archives and servers for the COSMOS data sets at NASA IPAC/IRSA. This work was supported by grants from NASA (to N.S. and R.M.).

Author Contributions A.K. processed the raw HST data, and J.-P.K. masked defects in the image. A.L., J.R. and R.M. catalogued the positions and shapes of galaxies. Y.T. and S.S. obtained multicolour follow-up data, which was processed and calibrated by S.S., P.C., H.McC. and H.A. P.C. determined galaxies’ redshifts, and B.M. their stellar mass. N.S. constructed maps of stellar mass and galaxy density. A.F. processed the X-ray image and removed point sources. R.M. and A.R. produced the two-dimensional and tomographic mass maps; J.-L.S. and S.P. developed the wavelet filtering technique. D.B. and A.T. produced the three-dimensional mass reconstruction. J.T., A.F., R.E. and R.M. compared the various tracers of large-scale structure.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Richard Massey.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at www.nature.com/reprints. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

This file contains Supplementary Figures S1-S7 and Supplementary Table S1. Figure S1 illustrates the process of gravitational lensing. Figure S2 shows spurious signal due to imperfect Charge Transfer Efficiency (CTE) before correction. Figure S3 shows correction for Charge Transfer Efficiency (CTE). Figure S4 shows realisation of noise level in the tomographic mass reconstructions. Figure S5 shows photometric redshift accuracy for bright galaxies. Figure S6 shows measured and expected number counts of faint galaxies. Figure S7 shows additional views of the 3 dimensional mass reconstruction. Table S1 shows dilution of the lensing signal by the spurious inclusion of low redshift galaxies at high redshift. (PDF 3354 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Massey, R., Rhodes, J., Ellis, R. et al. Dark matter maps reveal cosmic scaffolding. Nature 445, 286–290 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05497

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nature05497

This article is cited by

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing