Sunday, June 20, 2021

Dark Matter May Be Older Than the Big Bang, Study Suggests

Dark matter, which researchers believe makes up about 80 percent of the universe’s mass, is one of the most elusive mysteries in modern physics. A recent study indicates it may be older than the Big Bang.

The study, published in Physical Review Letters, presents a new idea of how dark matter was born and how to identify it with astronomical observations. Tommi Tenkanen, a postdoctoral fellow in Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University and the study’s author, said:

While not much is known about its origins, astronomers have shown that dark matter plays a crucial role in the formation of galaxies and galaxy clusters. Though not directly observable, scientists know dark matter exists by its gravitation effects on how visible matter moves and is distributed in space.

For a long time, researchers believed that dark matter must be a leftover substance from the Big Bang. Researchers have long sought this kind of dark matter, but so far all experimental searches have been unsuccessful. Tenkanen said:

Using a new, simple mathematical framework, the study shows that dark matter may have been produced before the Big Bang during an era known as cosmic inflation, when space was expanding very rapidly. The rapid expansion is believed to lead to the copious production of certain types of particles called scalars.

So far, only one scalar particle has been discovered, the famous Higgs boson. Tenkanen explained:

While the idea that dark matter existed before the Big Bang is not new, other theorists have not been able to come up with calculations that support the idea. The new study shows that researchers have always overlooked the simplest possible mathematical scenario for dark matter’s origins, he says.

The new study also suggests a way to test the origin of dark matter by observing the signatures dark matter leaves on the distribution of matter in the universe, saying:

Provided by: Johns Hopkins University [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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Troy Oakes
Troy was born and raised in Australia and has always wanted to know why and how things work, which led him to his love for science. He is a professional photographer and enjoys taking pictures of Australia's beautiful landscapes. He is also a professional storm chaser where he currently lives in Hervey Bay, Australia.
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