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More than 80% of all matter in the universe consists of materials that scientists have not seen. It’s called dark matter, and we only assume it exists because without it, the behavior of stars, planets, and galaxies would make no sense. Here’s what we know about it, or rather what we know.
Is Dark Matter Matter
Dark matter is completely invisible. It does not emit light or energy and therefore cannot be detected by conventional sensors and detectors. According to scientists, the key to its amazing nature lies in its composition.
Why Do Astronomers Believe In Dark Matter?
Visible matter, also known as baryonic matter, consists of baryons, which are subatomic particles such as protons, neutrons, and electrons. Scientists can only guess what dark matter is made of. It can be baryons or non-baryons, that is, it can consist of different particles.
Most scientists believe that dark matter is composed of non-baryonic matter. A leading candidate, WIMPS (weakly interacting large particles), is believed to be ten times the mass of a proton, but their weak interactions with “normal” matter make them difficult to detect. Hypothetical massive particles that are heavier and slower than neutralinos are a leading candidate, although they have yet to appear.
Sterile neutrinos are another candidate. Neutrinos are particles that do not make up ordinary matter. A river of neutrinos flows from the Sun, but because it rarely interacts with ordinary matter, it passes through the earth and its inhabitants.
Physicists Measure The Loss Of Dark Matter Since The Birth Of The Universe
There are three known types of neutrinos; a fourth, the sterile neutrino, is proposed as a candidate for dark matter. A sterile neutrino will interact with ordinary matter only through gravity.
“One of the big questions is whether there’s a pattern to the fractions that make up each type of neutrino,” said Tyce DeYoung, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Michigan State University and an employee of the IceCube neutrino observatory in Antarctica.
Smaller neutral particles and uncharged photons—theoretic particles—also replace dark matter.
Astronomers Measure The Density Of Dark Matter In Galaxy Clusters
There is also antimatter, which is not the same as dark matter. Antimatter consists of particles identical to visible matter particles but with opposite electrical charges. These particles are called antiprotons and positrons (or antielectrons). When antiparticles meet particles, an explosion occurs that causes the two types of matter to cancel each other out. Since we live in a universe made of matter, there is no such antimatter around, or there would be nothing left. Unlike dark matter, physicists can produce antimatter in their laboratories.
But if we can’t see dark matter, how do we know it exists? The answer is that gravity is the force an object exerts on matter that is proportional to its mass. Since the 1920s, astronomers have speculated that there must be more matter in the universe than we can see, because the force of gravity that appears to be at play in the universe appears to be stronger than can be explained by visible matter alone.
“The motions of the stars tell you how many things there are,” he said. “They don’t care what kind of situation it is, they just say it’s there.”
Four Things You Might Not Know About Dark Matter
In the 1970s, astronomers studying spiral galaxies expected the material in the center to move faster than the outer edges. Instead, they found that the stars were traveling at the same speed in both locations, indicating that the galaxies have more mass than they appear.
Studies of gas in elliptical galaxies have shown the need for more mass than is apparent. Clusters of galaxies would be separated if they had a visible mass for standard astronomical measurements.
Different galaxies appear to have different amounts of dark matter. In 2016, a team led by Van Dokkum discovered a galaxy called Dragonfly 44 that appears to be made almost entirely of dark matter. On the other hand, since 2018, astronomers have discovered several galaxies that appear to have no dark matter at all.
What Dark Matter Is (probably) Not
Gravity affects not only the orbits of stars in galaxies, but also the path of light. In the early 20th century, the famous physicist Albert Einstein showed that large objects in the universe bend and scatter light due to gravity. This phenomenon is called gravitational lensing. By studying how light is scattered by clusters of galaxies, astronomers have created a map of the dark matter in the universe.
Gran Sasso National Laboratory: “Several astronomical measurements have confirmed the existence of dark matter, prompting a global effort to observe the direct interaction of dark matter with ordinary matter.” Gran Sasso National Laboratory. in Italy (LNGS) said in a statement (opens in new tab). “However, these interactions are so weak that they have not been directly detected until now, prompting scientists to build more sensitive detectors.”
Despite all the evidence for the existence of dark matter, it is unlikely that such a thing could exist after all, and the laws of gravity that describe the motion of bodies in the Solar System may need to be reconsidered.
Dark Matter Vs. Dark Energy
Dark matter is spread across space in a web-like pattern, forming clusters of galaxies at the intersections of the filaments. By proving that gravity works the same way inside and outside our solar system, the researchers provide evidence for the existence of dark matter and dark energy. (Photo credit: WGBH)
Clusters of galaxies form at the intersections of galaxies, and dark matter is scattered throughout space. By proving that gravity works the same way inside and outside our solar system, the researchers provide further evidence for the existence of dark matter. (Things are more complicated because, in addition to dark matter, there is also an invisible force responsible for the expansion of the universe that works against gravity.)
But where does dark matter come from? The obvious answer is, we don’t know. But there are several theories. A study published in the Astrophysical Journal in December 2021 suggests that dark matter could be concentrated in supermassive holes, massive gates that sweep away everything around them due to their extreme gravity. As such, dark matter would have been created in the Big Bang along with the other constituent elements of the universe as we see it today.
A New Era In The Search For Dark Matter
Stellar debris, such as white dwarfs and neutron stars, contain large amounts of dark matter called brown dwarfs, in which we have not accumulated enough material to start nuclear fusion in their cores.
Since we can’t see dark matter, can we study it? There are two ways to learn more about this mysterious game. Astronomers study the distribution of dark matter in the universe by analyzing the accumulation of matter and the motion of objects in the universe. Particle physicists, on the other hand, look for the fundamental particles that make up dark matter.
An experiment on the International Space Station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (opens in new tab) (AMS) detects antimatter in cosmic rays. Since 2011, more than 100 billion cosmic rays have been exposed, providing fascinating insight into the composition of particles that traverse the universe.
Searching For Dark Matter With The Atlas Detector
“We measured an excess of positrons [the electron’s antimatter counterpart], and this excess may come from dark matter,” said AMS principal scientist and MIT Nobel laureate Samuel Ting. “But now we need more data to make sure it’s coming from dark matter and not some weird astrophysical source. That will take a few more years of running.”
LNGS’ XENON1T (opens in new tab) At Earth, WIMPs look for signs of interactions after collisions with xenon atoms.
“A new round has begun in the race to detect dark matter with ultra-low-background array detectors on Earth,” said Elena Aprile, a professor at Columbia University. . “We are proud to be at the forefront of the competition with this amazing, first-of-its-kind detector.”
Scientists Publish Most Precise Measurements Of Dark Matter Ever Made
The Large Underground Xenon Dark Matter Experiment (opens in new tab) (LUX) at a gold mine in South Dakota also looked for signs of WIMP and xenon effects. But so far, the tool has not solved the mystery.
“Although a positive signal was received, nature was not so kind!” Cham Ghag, a physicist at University College London and a LUX partner, said. “However, the inconclusive result is important because it changes the shape of the field by constraining models of how dark matter can all be.
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