Dark Matter And Gravity

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In 1933, Swiss astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky, who studied galaxy clusters while working at the California Institute of Technology, made a similar inference. Zwicky applied the virial theorem to the Coma Cluster and obtained evidence of unseen mass he called dunkle Materie ('dark matter'). Zwicky estimated its mass based on the motions of galaxies near its edge and compared that to an estimate based on its brightness and number of galaxies. He estimated the cluster had about 400 times more mass than was visually observable. The gravity effect of the visible galaxies was far too small for such fast orbits, thus mass must be hidden from view. Based on these conclusions, Zwicky inferred some unseen matter provided the mass and associated gravitation attraction to hold the cluster together. Zwicky's estimates were off by more than an order of magnitude, mainly due to an obsolete value of the Hubble constant; the same calculation today shows a smaller fraction, using greater values for luminous mass. Nonetheless, Zwicky did correctly conclude from his calculation that the bulk of the matter was dark.


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