Find dark matter, win $12,000

Galaxy cluster Abell 520, formed by a massive collision of galaxies. Blue indicates where dark matter is present.

Dark matter is so elusive, scientists are outsourcing.

The Observing Dark Worlds contest is calling on citizen astronomers and scientists to find the best method for detecting dark matter.

At this point, dark matter is still somewhat theoretical. It’s thought to be unaffected by light and electromagnetism and can’t be seen with the human eye. Occasionally, researchers find evidence of clumps of dark matter – when a star or galaxy’s light seems warped or distorted, it could be because dark matter is obscuring our view. And though scientists estimate that 85 percent of our universe is composed of dark matter, there’s still no good way of observing it.

Enter your scientifically-inclined average Joe with a telescope. Observing Dark worlds is offering three prizes: $12,000 for first place, $5,000 for second and $3,000 for third for the best method of finding dark matter.

The deadline for the contest is December 16.

Photo: Credit: NASA, ESA, CFHT, CXO, M.J. Jee (University of California, Davis), and A. Mahdavi (San Francisco State University)

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