Finding Elusive Dark Matter

Dark matter map

Dark matter map (Photo credit: thebadastronomer)

There is among astronomers a widely held belief that so-called dark matter makes up the majority of the mass in the Universe, some 21% of the total, as opposed to the 4%, theoretically, consisting of normal matter, making up stars, planets etc.

Perhaps even more controversial is the idea that what remains is made up of something referred to as dark energy, a component that is hypothetical and not the least bit understood, which might explain the continuous expansion of the cosmos.

The formation and structure of the Universe, so science tells us called the cosmological standard model, predicting that some elementary particles exist  in the form of CDM, or cold dark matter, believed to have formed a mere one millionth of a second after the Big Bang.

Hypothetically, these particles are referred to as cold because they move only very slowly, but even their existence remains unproven. since detection of them is all but impossible, as they rarely interact  with matter as we know it.

It appears however, according to an Italian research team – conducting the Cresst experiment – while dark matter was initially proposed to explain what holds galaxies together, new knowledge about the mechanisms of gravity indicate that far more matter is required to do this than can be seen.

So they are proposing that, instead of cold dark matter, the cosmos might instead be be inhabited by warm dark matter, which would have formed minutes after the Big Bang, dubbed as warm because it consists of lighter and more energetic particles.

Cresst researchers claimed, in Germany, to have noted 67 detected events possibly caused by dark matter particles called Wimps, during the Topics in Astro-particle and Underground Physics meeting there What dark matter actually is has been the subject of speculation for some time.

Thus far, both theory and experiment seem to indicate that it is made up particles not normally interacting with known matter, called Wimps or weakly interacting massive particles, some of which, it appears, may pass right through the Milky Way galaxy without interaction with normal matter at all.

The Cresst experiment sees one laboratory dedicated to finding these elusive particles in deep underground detectors, using 33 crystalline lumps of calcium tungstate. They seek that moment, when Wimps an atomic nucleii within the crystals collide.

Evidence is gathered of the momentary appearance both of phonon and photon, the elementary sound and the light effects of such impacts, 67 of which have been recorded between 2009 and 2011, events that cannot otherwise be explained.

The scientific notion that, as our Solar System traverses the galaxial dark matter halo, Earth moves alternately with and against the dark matter current, but nothing of any substance has so far been proven. Until the scientists can truly quantify the properties that might be associated with it, when it comes to this particular matter, we are condemned to remain in the dark.

Dark matter pie

Dark matter pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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