Lighting Up The Dark: Where Is The Dark Matter?

Neta Bahcall

Department of Astronomy, Princeton University

How is Dark Matter distributed in the Universe? How does it relate to the distribution of light, stars, and baryons? These questions are examined using gravitational lensing and other recent observations that trace the distribution of mass in the Universe from small to large scales and reveal the connection between the dark and bright side of the Universe. While the halos of dark matter around galaxies show an observed mass distribution that is considerably more extended than that of light, this trend changes on larger scales, where the mass, light, and stars trace each other remarkably well. This indicates the 'edge' of the dark matter distribution. The results suggest that most of the dark matter in the Universe may be located in large halos (~300 Kpc) around galaxies, with no significant increase in the dark matter component on larger scales. The mass of groups, clusters, and large scale structure appear to be mostly made up by the total mass of the individual galaxy members, including their extended halos, plus gas. We find that the stellar mass fraction is constant on these large scales, with stars comprising only about one percent of the total mass. How can stars follow the total mass so well? And where are the rest of the baryons? The connection between baryons, stars, and mass on these scales will be discussed, as well as the implications for cosmology, galaxy formation, and the mass-density of the universe.