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Dark matter revealed?

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(Read caption) The NGC 2300 group of galaxies contains a large reservoir of million-degree gas glowing in X-rays. A false-color X-ray image of the hot gas is superimposed here on an optical picture of the galaxy group. Gravity from the galaxies alone is not enough to keep the gas in its place. There must be large quantities of dark matter whose gravity is preventing the gas from escaping.

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Dark matter, which scientists believe makes up 25 percent of the universe but whose existence has never been proven, could be detected by the giant particle collider at CERN, the research center's head said Monday.

Rolf-Dieter Heuer told a news conference some evidence for the matter may emerge even in the shorter term from mega-power particle collisions aimed at recreating conditions at the "Big Bang" birth of the universe some 13.7 billion years ago.

"We don't know what dark matter is," said Heuer, Director-General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research on the Swiss-French border near Geneva.

IN PICTURES: Dark matter

"Our Large Hadron Collider (LHC) could be the first machine to give us insight into the dark universe," he said. "We are opening the door to New Physics, to a discovery period."

Astronomers and physicists say that only 5 percent of the universe is known currently, and that the invisible remainder consists of dark matter and dark energy, which make up some 25 percent and 70 percent, respectively.


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