Could dark matter finally be understood? A Jan 3, 2019, release from the Universities of Surrey, Carnegie Mellon and ETH Zurich touts some ground-breaking discoveries regarding the previously unknown and mysterious substance some scientists believe composes most of the known universe. In fact, it has been discovered dark matter has been able to be heated and moved. The release included findings from a hunt for dark matter by the team in the center of dwarf galaxies.
Dwarf galaxies are small galaxies emanating faint light that are found in the orbits of larger and brighter galaxies. Since dark matter interacts with light in a substantially different way than regular matter, it can only be truly observed using gravity and its effects. Because of its mysterious properties, dark matter is studied by observing the formation of stars in these dwarf galaxies.
According to the release, strong winds created in the formation of these stars push gas and dust toward the edge of these dwarf galaxies. This causes the center to have a decrease in mass – as all that gas and dust add together to some sizable numbers. As gravity and mass are related, a decrease in mass results in dark matter also moving away from the center of the galaxy. This causes the “dark matter heating” announced in the release.
Scientists working on this have described the element of dark matter heating as a “smoking gun” for the future of research into dark matter. Future research hopes to learn why dark matter heating occurs. While this may be the smoking gun, scientists ultimately hope to find a dark matter particle – something one of the scientists on the team described as a hypothetical “Holy Grail” for their research.
This research may be helpful for building more accurate models of the universe and its forces, as it is theorized to compose as much as 80 percent of the known universe, despite not emitting light nor energy. Theories for what dark matter could be include Massive Compact Halo Objects (MACHOs), which are larger space items such as brown dwarf stars and black holes, and Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), which proposed particles of matter, which do not reflect or absorb light or any other form of electromagnetic energy.
Other scientists have claimed dark matter does not have to exist to explain the theorized mass of the universe (which is much more than the mass it would be from what can be observed, according to modern science) and instead claim physics as the study is known by modern humanity does not work at the largest levels. They have offered a theory called Modified Newtonian Dynamics. They claim the largest flaw in the proposed existence of dark matter is that no one has yet observed it. Perhaps this study can lead to something to change that.