The Quest for The Elusive Dark Matter

Dark matter is a mysterious and unidentified form of matter that is thought to be composed of exotic, non-atomic particles that do not interact with light or any other form of electromagnetic radiation. Indeed, dark matter’s very name refers to the fact that, because it does not dance readily with light, it is transparent and invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum. However, even though the dark matter has not been directly observed, its ghostly presence and properties are inferred from its gravitational effects on the motions of visible, atomic matter–as well as on its ability to behave as a cosmic lens (gravitational lensing), and its weird phantom-like influence on the Universe’s large-scale structure. The good news is that in November 2016, a German-Hungarian team of astronomers announced that their new and ambitious supercomputer calculation has revealed that the axion–a hypothetical particle considered to be a leading candidate for the dark matter–if it exists, could be at least ten times heavier than previously thought. If true, this finding provides scientists with a precious tool that they can use to finally catch the elusive, invisible particle. The bad news is that the new research suggests that an experiment–that has been hunting for the axion for two decades–might be unlikely to find it. This is because the detector was designed to hunt for a lighter version of the axion.

The team of researchers, led by Dr. Zoltan Fodor of the University of Wuppertal in Germany, included scientists from the Eotvos University in Budapest, Hungary, and Forschungszentrum Julich. dark web sites
The important calculations were carried out on Julich’s supercomputer JUQUEEN (BlueGene/Q) in Germany. The scientists present their new results in the journal Nature.

“Dark matter is an invisible form of matter which until now has only revealed itself through its gravitational effects. What it consists of remains a complete mystery, ” commented study co-author Dr. Andreas Ringwald in a November 2, 2016 Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) Press release. DESY is a Research Centre of the Helmholtz Association in Bonn and Berlin, Germany. Dr. Ringwald is based at DESY, and he is also the one responsible for proposing the research study.

The possible existence of the axion was first brought up back in 1977 as a possible solution to a nagging paradox arising from how the strong nuclear force–which holds particles in the nucleus of an atom together–influences matter and antimatter. This would explain an unexpected symmetry whereby the strong nuclear force–one of the four known forces of nature–has the same effect on matter as it does on antimatter. The other three known forces of nature are the weak nuclear force, the electromagnetic force, and gravity. Because many researchers also think that the axion might be one of the components of the dark matter, if the axion really does exist, it could solve two nagging mysteries at once.

Hints of the existence of the transparent dark matter come from–among other things–the astrophysical observation of galaxies, which rotate much too rapidly to be held together merely by the gravitational pull of their contents of visible, atomic matter. Scientists currently think that the observable Universe is composed of approximately 26. 8 percent dark matter, 68. 3 percent dark energy, and a mere 4. 8 percent atomic (baryonic) matter. All of the stars, planets, clouds of gas and other objects inhabiting the Cosmos are composed of so-called “ordinary” atomic matter, which is clearly the runt of the cosmic litter. Dark energy, which is thought to account for most of the total mass-energy of the known Universe, is even more mysterious than the dark matter. Possibly a property of space itself, dark energy may be what is causing the Universe to speed up in its expansion. “Ordinary” atomic matter is really very extraordinary stuff–it is the form of matter that composes the world that we are familiar with.

According to the Standard Model for the formation of cosmic structure, invisible dark matter particles initially clump together gravitationally to create a crowded area, which is termed a dark matter halo. As time goes by, these transparent halos pull in–with the relentless grip of their powerful gravity–floating, billowing clouds of primordial, pristine, primarily hydrogen gas. Stars and galaxies are born as a result.

Physicists are desperately hunting for the exotic, non-atomic particles that are thought to compose the dark matter–which has only been detected indirectly, by the way it gravitationally influences the galaxies that inhabit the observable Universe. But so far, every experiment that has been devised to find dark matter particles has come up with nothing, nothing, nothing at all or produced results that are highly controversial. Most of these unsuccessful experiments have attempted to spot or produce what are called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs).

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