Scientists at the University of Southampton have suggested a new fundamental particle which could describe why no one has succeeded to detect ‘dark matter’, the indefinable missing 85% of the Universe’s mass.
Dark Matter is believed to be present because it’s gravitational influence on stars and galaxies, gravitational lensing (the bending of light rays) about these and through its imprint on the galactic microwave background (the afterglow of the big bang).
In spite convincing indirect proof and substantial experimental effort, no one has succeeded to perceive dark matter directly. Particle physics gives us signs to what dark matter might be, and the typical opinion is that dark matter particles have a huge mass for fundamental particles, in comparison to that of heavy atoms. Lighter dark matter particles are believed less likely for cosmological reasons, although exclusions are known, and this study highlights a previously unidentified window where they could be present and, with very general opinions from particle physics, derives some astonishing outcomes.
The suggested particle has a mass of 100eV/c^2, only about 0.02% that of an electron. While it does not influence light, as obligatory for dark matter, it does interact astonishingly strongly with normal matter. Certainly, in plain contrast to other contenders, it may not even breach Earth’s atmosphere. Earth-bound discovery is therefore not possible, so the scientists plan to incorporate examinations into a space experiment planned by the macroscopic quantum resonators (MAQRO) association, with whom they are already involved. A nanoparticle, suspended in space and exposed straight to the flow of dark matter, will be pushed downstream and delicate observance of this particle’s position will disclose data about the nature of this dark matter particle, if it exists.
Dr James Bateman, from Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southampton and co-author of the study, says: “This work brings together some very dissimilar areas of physics: theoretical particle physics, observational x-ray astronomy, and experimental quantum optics. Our contender particle sounds crazy, but at present there appear to be no experiments or clarifications which could rule it out. Dark matter is one of the most significant unexplained problems in modern physics, and we hope that our proposal will motivate others to develop thorough particle theory and even experimental tests.”
Dr Alexander Merle, co-author from the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany, says: “At the present, trials on dark matter do not point into a vibrant direction and, given that also the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has not established any marks of new physics yet, it may be time that we shift our model towards other candidates for dark matter. More and more particle physicists appear to think this way, and our suggestion appears to be a thoughtful competitor on the market.”
Dark matter may be problematic to be understood by crossing fields and seeing for concealed potentials. Dr Bateman adds: “Also from this point of view, the paper contains a landmark on the history of our department: for the first time there has been a publication comprising writers from all three groups in Physics and Astronomy, which shows how valued it can be to cross borders and to look outside one’s own field.”
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