Skip to main content

Tracing mass and light in the Universe: where is the dark matter?

Author(s): Bahcall, Neta A; Kulier, A

To refer to this page use:
Abstract: How is mass distributed in the Universe? How does it compare with the distribution of light and stars? We address these questions by examining the distribution of mass, determined from weak lensing observations, and starlight, around $>10^5$ SDSS MaxBCG groups and clusters as a function of environment and scale, from deep inside clusters to large cosmic scales of $22 h^-1$ Mpc. The observed cumulative mass-to-light profile, $M/L (< r)$, rises on small scales, reflecting the increasing $M/L$ of the central bright galaxy of the cluster, then flattens to a nearly constant ratio on scales above $\sim 300 h^-1$ kpc, where light follows mass on all scales and in all environments. A trend of slightly decreasing $M/L (r)$ with scale is shown to be consistent with the varying stellar population following the morphology-density relation. This suggests that stars trace mass remarkably well even though they represent only a few percent of the total mass. We determine the stellar mass fraction and find it to be nearly constant on all scales above $\sim 300 h^-1$ kpc, with $M_*/M_tot \simeq 1.0\pm0.4%$. We further suggest that most of the dark matter in the Universe is located in the large halos of individual galaxies ($\sim 300$ kpc for $L^*$ galaxies); we show that the entire $M/L (r)$ profile – from groups and clusters to large-scale structure – can be accounted for by the aggregate masses of the individual galaxies (whose halos may be stripped off but still remain in the clusters), plus gas. We use the observed mass-to-light ratio on large scales to determine the mass density of the Universe: $Ømega_m = 0.24 \pm 0.02 \times b_M/L^2 = 0.26 \pm 0.02.$
Publication Date: 11-Apr-2014
Electronic Publication Date: 12-Feb-2014
Citation: Bahcall, NA, Kulier, A. (Tracing mass and light in the Universe: where is the dark matter?. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 439 (3), 2514 - 2514. doi:10.1093/mnras/stu107
DOI: doi:10.1093/mnras/stu107
Pages: 2505 - 2514
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

Items in OAR@Princeton are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.