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90% of the Universe Found Hiding In Plain View

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the that-tricky-universe dept.

Space 279

The Bad Astronomer writes "As much as 90% of previously hidden galaxies in the distant Universe have been found by astronomers using the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Previous surveys had looked for distant (10 billion light years away) galaxies by searching in a wavelength of ultraviolet light emitted by hydrogen atoms — distant young galaxies should be blasting out this light, but very few were detected. The problem is that the ultraviolet light never gets out of the galaxies, so we never see them. In this new study, astronomers searched a different wavelength emitted by hydrogen, and voila, ten times as many galaxies could be seen, meaning 90% of them had been missed before."

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bazinga (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31616852)

bazinga ... first

Deez Nuts are Hiding in Plain View (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31616862)

8==F=I=R=S=T==P=O=S=T==D

Re:Deez Nuts are Hiding in Plain View (-1, Offtopic)

drachenstern (160456) | about 4 years ago | (#31617444)

Hey if it takes that many penis extensions for you to feel normal, that's cool man. We promise not to hold it against you. Obviously that isn't your real dick, cos you aint man enough to jump out there with a nick and pic. It'll be ok, the therapy group promises not to laugh as much tonight.

Oh, and your momma said not to be so mean to you tonight. I'll think about it!

Re:Deez Nuts are Hiding in Plain View (0, Offtopic)

drachenstern (160456) | about 4 years ago | (#31617796)

offtopic? seriously? well I knew that, but ... not funny in the least?

Ok, not like my karma is going to take a hit or anything...

Re:Deez Nuts are Hiding in Plain View (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617998)

I didn't think it was funny man, sorry. plus, don't feed the trolls.

I Smell Another Apple Ad (4, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#31616870)

90% of the Universe was discovered by thinking differently? Steve Jobs just felt a tingle somewhere.

Re:I Smell Another Apple Ad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617184)

Kind of like thinking you've gone blind when it was only your sunglasses were on.

Re:I Smell Another Apple Ad (1)

Nested (981630) | about 4 years ago | (#31617264)

Probably need to get a new pair of sunglasses if they completely blind you. HTH.

Re:I Smell Another Apple Ad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617680)

Hey, these Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses cost me a lot of money!

Re:I Smell Another Apple Ad (1, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | about 4 years ago | (#31617298)

90% of the Universe was discovered by thinking differently?

Hey, with a name like Very Large Telescope, something big was bound to happen.

Re:I Smell Another Apple Ad (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617366)

Except apple isn't being different, they moved to generic intel machines (with their own proprietary bits to ensure we can't replace some components like PCs), apple moved to unix, not exactly a new OS, they moved to mp3 players after most companies already have been in the field for years, they moved to cell phones long after other companies created the technology. Oh yeah, "think different" because we hope the sheep don't noticed everything we do has been done before, plus we're all gay.

Re:I Smell Another Apple Ad (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#31618088)

And how do they know that they've found 90% of what was previously hidden?

Maybe there's more hidden than they thought was hidden.

Is the size of the universe so widely agreed-upon? Far be it from me to challenge a headline in Science, but I'm just a little curious about this assertion.

A Nice Step (1)

BigSes (1623417) | about 4 years ago | (#31616894)

This should stand as a very significant step forward. Hopefully, they can use technology derived from this to make it easier to study planets orbiting distant stars. Hello ET!

Re:A Nice Step (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 years ago | (#31617044)

This should stand as a very significant step forward.

A quantum leap, to be exact.

IGMC...

Re:A Nice Step (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | about 4 years ago | (#31617560)

You mean so small it's almost undetectable? Finding missinng 90% of universe is Very Large Thing!

Re:A Nice Step (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617856)

So they found the dark matter? If so, this is astounding.

Next step: a better name (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#31617156)

The "Very Large Telescope?" Come on. We can do better than that. I suggest "Really Big Round Glass Thing for Seeing Further."

Re:Next step: a better name (2, Funny)

badran (973386) | about 4 years ago | (#31617986)

It is a "Raid of Really Big Rounded Optical Things for Seeing Further".

Over there, behind Jupiter! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31616910)

It's 90% of the universe's mass!

Implications for dark matter estimates? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31616920)

Anyone got any idea how this impacts our estimates of dark matter?

Does dark matter disappear or do we still need some hiding to explain things?

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (2, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 4 years ago | (#31617060)

I think 90% of the dark matter just got a little brighter ... though I doubt they'll declare dark matter "a mistake" because so many in the astrophysics community have stood behind the concept.

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 4 years ago | (#31617312)

More likely, a huge intellectual battle will break out among humankind, between the Dark Matter proponents and the Dark Matter deniers. Auditoriums full of angry people will hurl insults back and forth at each other, news stations will interview various scientific experts and political commentators in an effort to boost ratings, deniers will accuse the proponents of wanting to destroy the free-market universe and enslave humankind in some kind of subatomic socialism, while proponents will accuse the deniers of being selfish and greedy, willing to gamble the heat death of the entire universe just so they can run their colliders a little longer.

But that's just my prediction.

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#31617320)

Absolutely wrong. TFA even states this means nothing for dark matter, we knew that these galaxies were out there, we just hadn't spotted them yet. Besides, we've seen dark matter much closer to home. When galaxies collide, the gas pressure stops the regular matter, while the dark matter keeps moving along at the same speed. The dark matter has mass, so it creates a gravatic lens. We have seen these lenses, with no visible matter to create them, when galaxies collide.

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (3, Insightful)

Mr Thinly Sliced (73041) | about 4 years ago | (#31617384)

Very nice. Thank you for explaining a little about what evidence we have for dark matter.

I knew about the fudge factor we needed to get the equations to work - I didn't know we have actually seen something like that.

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (2, Funny)

wealthychef (584778) | about 4 years ago | (#31617392)

So dark gas has no dark pressure?

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (4, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#31617530)

Dark matter isn't just matter that isn't lit up (that was one of the original theories, but has since fallen to the wayside), it is matter that is fundamentally different and doesn't appear to interact with regular matter at all, except gravitationally.

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (5, Informative)

Mab_Mass (903149) | about 4 years ago | (#31617140)

Anyone got any idea how this impacts our estimates of dark matter?

From TFA:

"I'll note: this has nothing to do with dark matter. As it happens, 90% of the matter in the Universe is in a form that emits no light, but affects other matter through gravity. We know it exists ... locally, in nearby galaxies and clusters of galaxies, too. This new result doesn't affect that, since the now un-hidden galaxies are very far away, like many billions of light years away. They can't possibly affect nearby galaxies, so they don't account for dark matter."

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617186)

So with this discovery have our estimates of the mass in the universe gone up?

In that case my next question would be - does this have any impact on the "closed-ness" of our universe?

(eternally expanding or resulting in a big crunch).

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (1)

ooshna (1654125) | about 4 years ago | (#31617414)

No we already know how much matter there is in the universe we just couldn't see it and now because of thise we can see 90% of what we think is out there. We also know that matter only makes up 10% of the universe and that the other 90% of that is dark matter.

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617552)

I see. Thanks for responding to a coward :-)

Re:Implications for dark matter estimates? (3, Insightful)

Jeff Satterley (1622949) | about 4 years ago | (#31617292)

The Bad Astronomy post talks about dark matter: [Note: before you ask, this has nothing to do with dark matter. See below!] I’ll note: this has nothing to do with dark matter. As it happens, 90% of the matter in the Universe is in a form that emits no light, but affects other matter through gravity. We know it exists, and you can find out why here [discovermagazine.com] . We know it exists locally, in nearby galaxies and clusters of galaxies, too. This new result doesn’t affect that, since the now un-hidden galaxies are very far away, like many billions of light years away. They can’t possibly affect nearby galaxies, so they don’t account for dark matter.

Dark stuff? (-1, Redundant)

vrmlguy (120854) | about 4 years ago | (#31616948)

Does this account for any missing mass and/or dark matter?

Re:Dark stuff? (5, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 4 years ago | (#31617032)

Does this account for any missing mass and/or dark matter?

FTFA: "...this has nothing to do with dark matter."

MOD PARENT UP (2, Insightful)

forand (530402) | about 4 years ago | (#31617120)

People are far too enamored with dark matter. It is extremely frustrating having to place everything in the context of dark matter (often with only the most tenuous connection) when trying to explain interesting observations to the general public. The author of this article, thankfully, made it clear at the top of the article that it was NOT related to dark matter and went on to explain the observation.

Re:Dark stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617244)

I don't like how the author came to such a quick conclusion. He may be right, but shouldn't the result of this experiment suggest that the mass to light ratio of the universe is smaller than we think - i.e. less dark matter?

Re:Dark stuff? (2, Informative)

AlecC (512609) | about 4 years ago | (#31617806)

Because estimates of the density of galaxies in the universe have been based on the volume that is closer to us and therefore relatively more visible, and did not suffer from the problem described. The assumption had been that the universe far away is, in a general manner, similar to the universe nearby, on the usual principle that there is nothing special about the place that we are. When the density of remote (and very early) galaxies fell off, it was assumed to be more likely to be an observational artefact than a genuine falling off. Which is what the article says has now been proved to be the case. Estimates of the number of galaxies were based on the bits we can see easily, not the bits we can hardly see.

Re:Dark stuff? (1)

zombie_monkey (1036404) | about 4 years ago | (#31617070)

From TFA: "I'll note: this has nothing to do with dark matter. As it happens, 90% of the matter in the Universe is in a form that emits no light, but affects other matter through gravity. We know it exists, and you can find out why here. We know it exists locally, in nearby galaxies and clusters of galaxies, too. This new result doesn't affect that, since the now un-hidden galaxies are very far away, like many billions of light years away. They can't possibly affect nearby galaxies, so they don't account for dark matter."

Re:Dark stuff? (1)

Alcimedes (398213) | about 4 years ago | (#31617078)

More in-depth quote.

"I’ll note: this has nothing to do with dark matter. As it happens, 90% of the matter in the Universe is in a form that emits no light, but affects other matter through gravity. We know it exists, and you can find out why here. We know it exists locally, in nearby galaxies and clusters of galaxies, too. This new result doesn’t affect that, since the now un-hidden galaxies are very far away, like many billions of light years away. They can’t possibly affect nearby galaxies, so they don’t account for dark matter."

Re:Dark stuff? (4, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#31617254)

The missing mass is comprised of all the socks that have slipped through the spacetime continuum when you put them in the washing machine. They emit no radiation, but exert gravity. It's especially grave when you can't find a matching pair.

Re:Dark stuff? (3, Funny)

synaptik (125) | about 4 years ago | (#31617570)

The socks don't escape through the washer. They escape through the dryer's lint trap. Eventually, after you've captured at least one socks-worth of lint, a sock somewhere in the world has to go "poof". (Note that it's not necessarily your sock, or your lint trap. It's a conservation-of-mass/quantum-lint-mechanics kind of thing.)

Re:Dark stuff? (3, Funny)

tool462 (677306) | about 4 years ago | (#31617668)

That's why I never clean my lint trap. If I don't look, then my socks don't disappear!

Re:Dark stuff? (2, Funny)

Jake Griffin (1153451) | about 4 years ago | (#31618122)

If a lint trap fills up in the forest, and there is no one there to clean it out, does a sock turn into dark matter?

IANAA, but... (0, Redundant)

trurl7 (663880) | about 4 years ago | (#31616972)

weren't people wondering where 90% of the Universe's mass went? So they started into 'dark matter' and other voodoo stuff. Now that there's been a, what, 10-fold increase in galaxies, and I assume galaxies are a bit heavy (hey, I'm not against fat galaxies, they're just massively gifted), does that answer the 'mass of the Universe' question, or is there more stuff missing still?

Dark matter (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31616994)

Does this discovery do away with the need for the postulated existence of dark matter in cosmological theory?

Seeing them all? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617012)

If we only saw 10% of them before, how do we know we're seeing all of them this time?

I RTFA... (4, Informative)

Torrance (1599681) | about 4 years ago | (#31617024)

...and this isn't the conclusion that I immediately jumped to - the discovery of dark matter. It's merely the discovery of the visible matter that they though should always be there.

Scientists' pledge. (4, Funny)

Spazntwich (208070) | about 4 years ago | (#31617050)

Scientists on earth were said to be embarrassed by overlooking what had been there all along, and promised to never again take what they have for granted.

"It's like some crappy teen drama, and we just had to wait for the prom scene to realize how beautiful our soft-spoken nerdy friend is."

90% of the universe could not be reached for comment, as it decided itself too good for its unappreciative inattentive "friends" and went to the football players' afterparty.

Not "90% of the Universe" (4, Insightful)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | about 4 years ago | (#31617052)

Merely 90% of the Visible Universe that we couldn't see before.

The Visible Universe probably constitutes a very small (perhaps even infinitesimally small) fraction of the actual physical Universe. The rest will, according to Relativity, always be hidden.

Re:Not "90% of the Universe" (2, Funny)

elnyka (803306) | about 4 years ago | (#31617300)

Merely 90% of the Visible Universe that we couldn't see before.

The Visible Universe probably constitutes a very small (perhaps even infinitesimally small) fraction of the actual physical Universe. The rest will, according to Relativity, always be hidden.

Not if we develop FTL traveler, it wont, you physics philistine!!! </shakes trekkie fist in anger>

Re:Not "90% of the Universe" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617372)

The rest will, according to Relativity, always be hidden.

Thank, you, Mr. Shattner, for, your, sage, wisdom.

p.s. I think you should, according to grammarians, never be allowed to write English in a public forum.

Re:Not "90% of the Universe" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617580)

No problem. Just post to German speaking forum. There your comma-placing would have been exactly right.

Re:Not "90% of the Universe" (1)

kryptKnight (698857) | about 4 years ago | (#31617710)

The Visible Universe probably constitutes a very small (perhaps even infinitesimally small) fraction of the actual physical Universe. The rest will, according to Relativity, always be hidden.

Or it may be that the visible universe is smaller than the actual universe. This paper [arxiv.org] estimates the minimum possible diameter of the universe to be 24 gigaparsecs, which is four gigaparsecs less than the diameter of the observable universe. It's not likely, but if it were true it would mean we could look a billion lightyears in one direction and see a region of space, or we could look 77 billion lightyears in the opposite direction and see how that same region looked 76 billion years earlier, by seeing light the looped around the long way around the universe.

Dark Matter? (0, Redundant)

chill (34294) | about 4 years ago | (#31617056)

So what of the theory that the Universe is composed of 90% dark matter that we can't see? Since we just found another 90% of the Universe, does that toss it all right out the window?

Re:Dark Matter? DUH! RTFA (1)

chill (34294) | about 4 years ago | (#31617104)

And AFTER reading the article...

I'll note: this has nothing to do with dark matter. As it happens, 90% of the matter in the Universe is in a form that emits no light, but affects other matter through gravity. We know it exists, and you can find out why here. We know it exists locally, in nearby galaxies and clusters of galaxies, too. This new result doesn't affect that, since the now un-hidden galaxies are very far away, like many billions of light years away. They can't possibly affect nearby galaxies, so they don't account for dark matter.

Re:Dark Matter? (1)

dtolman (688781) | about 4 years ago | (#31617158)

Not really... there are problems at the galactic scale - when observing galaxies, the gravitational pull is just too high to be explained by normal matter alone (assuming everything else we know is mostly correct).

90%, not so coincidentally... (0, Redundant)

Artifakt (700173) | about 4 years ago | (#31617064)

... is the same figure used to justify the initial claims for dark matter.
        Several initial sources claimed that there had to be abundant non-baryonic matter making up much of the universe, as otherwise, there would have to be about ten times as much normal matter as we were observing, and that, of course was absurd. So quite possibly this is so long to dark matter! Next question is, is there still any reason to postulate dark energy with the new values for average density and so on this will produce? Don't say goodbye to dark energy just yet, but expect some significant revisions.

Re:90%, not so coincidentally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617176)

This has nothing at all to do with dark matter. These galaxies are far away and would not be included in the calculations that give a dark matter mass. Read the article. This neither proves nor disproves dark matter in any ay.

Re:90%, not so coincidentally... (2, Insightful)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | about 4 years ago | (#31617222)

This has absolutely nothing do to with dark matter. So, yes it is a coincidence. And an approximation.

They're improving their technique for observing distant galaxies. Which doesn't in any way invalidate observations of (astronomically) very close galaxies. Which is what we base the existence of dark matter on.

Re:90%, not so coincidentally... (2, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | about 4 years ago | (#31617296)

Actually, it is just a coincidence. This has nothing to do with dark matter or dark energy.

This is an observation of distant galaxies. The theory of dark matter comes from observations much closer to home, within this galaxy. It's designed to explain why the galaxy doesn't fall apart; it has too little matter for gravity to do it on its own.

Since then, other independent observations have confirmed that galaxies have more matter than we can see.

Dark energy is also completely different. It comes from the observation that the far-away galaxies appear to be accelerating. What they're observing here is mass, not motion. (Yeah, same thing, but only at really high speeds, and this isn't that, either.)

They're finding a lot more galaxies, which is great, but it doesn't in and of itself radically change anything about how we view the fundamental theories of physics.

Ah ha!!! (0)

koan (80826) | about 4 years ago | (#31617082)

There's your missing mass, the Universe is cyclic and will collapse!!!

By no means do I know what I am talking about.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617128)

They found it behind uranus.

Any time now ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 years ago | (#31617224)

...the SETI people will announce the discovery that numerous alien civilizations have been busily communicating back and forth using optical links operating in the UV region.

Re:Any time now ... (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | about 4 years ago | (#31617542)

Unfortunately, it has taken us until now to realize, because they were using ... (wait for it) ... darknets.

The Universe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617318)

I've always found that the universe is in the last place I look, too.

I really have no subject, never did, never will. (2, Funny)

danwesnor (896499) | about 4 years ago | (#31617324)

I found one sitting on my sofa when I got home last night, eating Cheetos and watching Oprah. Damn thing was in my spot, too!

Re:I really have no subject, never did, never will (1)

tool462 (677306) | about 4 years ago | (#31617698)

The last time I called the thing on my couch a galaxy, she called me a gaseous nebula.

Redshift? (4, Informative)

rsborg (111459) | about 4 years ago | (#31617438)

My first thought was, did they compensate for redshift? Apparently they did, the article didn't explain, but a commenter did:

30. TMB Says: March 24th, 2010 at 7:02 pm To everyone who's asking "why didn't they look at this before?" - it's a lot harder. In the rest frame, Lyman-alpha is in the far-UV and H-alpha (what physicists call Balmer-alpha) is in the optical. But out at these redshifts, Lyman-alpha is redshifted into the optical (which is easy to observe) and H-alpha is redshifted out into the infrared (which is harder to observe).

90 percent huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617518)

if 90 percent of the hidden galaxies were found using this method, how do they know there isn't more to be found? What states that there is still 10 percent out there that needs to be found? If you don't have a whole then you can't state a part. they are really going to feel stupid about that statement later

Resumes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31617592)

Man, I would love to see his CV:

Discovered 90% of all normal matter in the Universe. Kind of a big deal.

Packing Peanuts (2, Funny)

jameskojiro (705701) | about 4 years ago | (#31617636)

I thought most of the missing mass of the Universe was tied up in the packing peanuts that are used in shipping the equipment scientists use to search for the missing mass in the universe.

I've Seen This Before (3, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 4 years ago | (#31617690)

"Hidden in plain view"? So what they are saying is that the universe exhibits the same behavior as my car keys.

Someone update the Drake Equation! (5, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | about 4 years ago | (#31617708)

Since we just got a 10 fold increase in galaxies.

I think that moves us from 0.006 to 0.06, (plus one obviously)

No Dark Matter/Dark Energy (0)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | about 4 years ago | (#31617774)

With a recent docco I saw claiming that 95% of the universe had to be Dark Matter and Dark Energy, this simply didn't make sense - and not in the way that Quantum Mechanics doesn't make sense, but in a truly "This just can't be the way it is, how come we are so special we're living made out of stuff that just 5% of the universe is made out of, why aren't we made from dark matter as well?"

Apparently not - from TFA:

I’ll note: this has nothing to do with dark matter. As it happens, 90% of the matter in the Universe is in a form that emits no light, but affects other matter through gravity. We know it exists, and you can find out why here [discovermagazine.com] . We know it exists locally, in nearby galaxies and clusters of galaxies, too. This new result doesn’t affect that, since the now un-hidden galaxies are very far away, like many billions of light years away. They can’t possibly affect nearby galaxies, so they don’t account for dark matter.

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