TECH

This Is (Probably) A Picture Of Dark Matter, The Invisible Stuff That Makes Up 80% Of The Universe

07/04/2014 16:01 BST | Updated 07/04/2014 16:59 BST

Scientists have declared they have found "the most compelling signal" ever for dark matter in the depths of the universe.

Dark Matter is thought to comprise the vast bulk of the universe's mass, despite the fact that we are unable to directly see it.

Scientists have searched for years to find traces of dark matter and its influence on the universe, with several breakthroughs in 2013 and early this year helping to all-but confirm its existence.

But significant evidence still remains unfound, and scientists are still scouring the skies (including those close to home) in order to prove that dark matter has the central place in the universe that we think it does.

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Above: a picture of the galaxy with all other known sources of gamma rays removed - except for the bulk at its centre scientists think might be caused by dark matter

Now a team from the Fermi National Laboratory claims that it might have done just that, by taking an extremely clear picture of a bright burst of gamma rays at the centre of the Milky Way. That is a part of the galaxy thought to be heavy with dark matter, and by looking deep into their data the team says the gamma rays seem to be emanating from the dark matter itself.

The team's work revolves specifically around running tests to rule out other sources for the gamma rays, such as pulsars. So far it looks like this and other explanations are so unlikely, dark matter is almost a lock.

Almost. There is still doubt about the results - mainly because the fact that nobody can really explain the rays without dark matter doesn't quite work as a proof for the matter's existence.

Hooper told New Scientist that "at this point, there are no known or proposed astrophysical mechanisms or sources that can account for this emission. That doesn't rule out things that no one's thought of yet, but we've tried pretty hard to think of something without success".

Head over to New Scientist for the full details of the finding.