Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that is thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe and about a quarter of its total energy density. The majority of dark matter is thought to be non-baryonic in nature, possibly being composed of some as-yet undiscovered subatomic particles.[note 1] Its presence is implied in a variety of astrophysical observations, including gravitational effects that cannot be explained by accepted theories of gravity unless more matter is present than can be seen. For this reason, most experts think dark matter to be ubiquitous in the universe and to have had a strong influence on its structure and evolution. Dark matter is called dark because it does not appear to interact with observable electromagnetic radiation, such as light, and is thus invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, making it extremely difficult to detect using usual astronomical equipment.
The primary evidence for dark matter is that calculations show that many galaxies would fly apart instead of rotating, or would not have formed or move as they do, if they did not contain a large amount of unseen matter. Other lines of evidence include observations in gravitational lensing, from the cosmic microwave background, from astronomical observations of the observable universe's current structure, from the formation and evolution of galaxies, from mass location during galactic collisions, and from the motion of galaxies within galaxy clusters. In the standard Lambda-CDM model of cosmology, the total mass–energy of the universe contains 5% ordinary matter and energy, 27% dark matter and 68% of an unknown form of energy known as dark energy. Thus, dark matter constitutes 85%[note 2] of total mass, while dark energy plus dark matter constitute 95% of total mass–energy content.
Because dark matter has not yet been observed directly, if it exists, it must barely interact with ordinary baryonic matter and radiation, except through gravity. The primary candidate for dark matter is some new kind of elementary particle that has not yet been discovered, in particular, weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMPs), or gravitationally-interacting massive particles (GIMPs). Many experiments to directly detect and study dark matter particles are being actively undertaken, but none have yet succeeded. Dark matter is classified as cold, warm, or hot according to its velocity (more precisely, its free streaming length). Current models favor a cold dark matter scenario, in which structures emerge by gradual accumulation of particles.
Although the existence of dark matter is generally accepted by the scientific community, some astrophysicists, intrigued by certain observations that do not fit the dark matter theory, argue for various modifications of the standard laws of general relativity, such as modified Newtonian dynamics, tensor–vector–scalar gravity, or entropic gravity. These models attempt to account for all observations without invoking supplemental non-baryonic matter.
The hypothesis of dark matter has an elaborate history. In a talk given in 1884, Lord Kelvin estimated the number of dark bodies in the Milky Way from the observed velocity dispersion of the stars orbiting around the center of the galaxy. By using these measurements, he estimated the mass of the galaxy, which he determined is different from the mass of visible stars. Lord Kelvin thus concluded that "many of our stars, perhaps a great majority of them, may be dark bodies". In 1906 Henri Poincaré in "The Milky Way and Theory of Gases" used "dark matter", or "matière obscure" in French, in discussing Kelvin's work.
The first to suggest the existence of dark matter, using stellar velocities, was Dutch astronomer Jacobus Kapteyn in 1922. Fellow Dutchman and radio astronomy pioneer Jan Oort also hypothesized the existence of dark matter in 1932. Oort was studying stellar motions in the local galactic neighborhood and found that the mass in the galactic plane must be greater than what was observed, but this measurement was later determined to be erroneous.
In 1933, Swiss astrophysicist Fritz Zwicky, who studied galaxy clusters while working at the California Institute of Technology, made a similar inference. Zwicky applied the virial theorem to the Coma Cluster and obtained evidence of unseen mass that he called dunkle Materie ('dark matter'). Zwicky estimated its mass based on the motions of galaxies near its edge and compared that to an estimate based on its brightness and number of galaxies. He estimated that the cluster had about 400 times more mass than was visually observable. The gravity effect of the visible galaxies was far too small for such fast orbits, thus mass must be hidden from view. Based on these conclusions, Zwicky inferred that some unseen matter provided the mass and associated gravitation attraction to hold the cluster together. This was the first formal inference about the existence of dark matter. Zwicky's estimates were off by more than an order of magnitude, mainly due to an obsolete value of the Hubble constant; the same calculation today shows a smaller fraction, using greater values for luminous mass. However, Zwicky did correctly infer that the bulk of the matter was dark.
Further indications that the mass-to-light ratio was not unity came from measurements of galaxy rotation curves. In 1939, Horace W. Babcock reported the rotation curve for the Andromeda nebula (known now as the Andromeda Galaxy), which suggested that the mass-to-luminosity ratio increases radially. He attributed it to either light absorption within the galaxy or modified dynamics in the outer portions of the spiral and not to the missing matter that he had uncovered. Following Babcock's 1939 report of unexpectedly rapid rotation in the outskirts of the Andromeda galaxy and a mass-to-light ratio of 50, in 1940 Jan Oort discovered and wrote about the large non-visible halo of NGC 3115.
Vera Rubin, Kent Ford and Ken Freeman's work in the 1960s and 1970s, provided further strong evidence, also using galaxy rotation curves. Rubin and Ford worked with a new spectrograph to measure the velocity curve of edge-on spiral galaxies with greater accuracy. This result was confirmed in 1978. An influential paper presented Rubin and Ford's results in 1980. They showed that most galaxies must contain about six times as much dark as visible mass; thus, by around 1980 the apparent need for dark matter was widely recognized as a major unsolved problem in astronomy.
At the same time that Rubin and Ford were exploring optical rotation curves, radio astronomers were making use of new radio telescopes to map the 21 cm line of atomic hydrogen in nearby galaxies. The radial distribution of interstellar atomic hydrogen (HI) often extends to much larger galactic radii than those accessible by optical studies, extending the sampling of rotation curves—and thus of the total mass distribution—to a new dynamical regime. Early mapping of Andromeda with the 300-foot telescope at Green Bank and the 250-foot dish at Jodrell Bank already showed that the HI rotation curve did not trace the expected Keplerian decline. As more sensitive receivers became available, Morton Roberts and Robert Whitehurst were able to trace the rotational velocity of Andromeda to 30 kpc, much beyond the optical measurements. Illustrating the advantage of tracing the gas disk at large radii, Figure 16 of that paper combines the optical data (the cluster of points at radii of less than 15 kpc with a single point further out) with the HI data between 20 and 30 kpc, exhibiting the flatness of the outer galaxy rotation curve; the solid curve peaking at the center is the optical surface density, while the other curve shows the cumulative mass, still rising linearly at the outermost measurement. In parallel, the use of interferometric arrays for extragalactic HI spectroscopy was being developed. In 1972, David Rogstad and Seth Shostak published HI rotation curves of five spirals mapped with the Owens Valley interferometer; the rotation curves of all five were very flat, suggesting very large values of mass-to-light ratio in the outer parts of their extended HI disks.
A stream of observations in the 1980s supported the presence of dark matter, including gravitational lensing of background objects by galaxy clusters, the temperature distribution of hot gas in galaxies and clusters, and the pattern of anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background. According to consensus among cosmologists, dark matter is composed primarily of a not yet characterized type of subatomic particle. The search for this particle, by a variety of means, is one of the major efforts in particle physics.
In standard cosmology, matter is anything whose energy density scales with the inverse cube of the scale factor, i.e., ρ ∝ a−3. This is in contrast to radiation, which scales as the inverse fourth power of the scale factor ρ ∝ a−4 , and a cosmological constant, which is independent of a. These scalings can be understood intuitively: for an ordinary particle in a cubical box, doubling the length of the sides of the box decreases the density (and hence energy density) by a factor of eight (23). For radiation, the decrease in energy density is larger because an increase in scale factor causes a proportional redshift. A cosmological constant, as an intrinsic property of space, has a constant energy density regardless of the volume under consideration.
In principle, "dark matter" means all components of the universe that are not visible but still obey ρ ∝ a−3. In practice, the term "dark matter" is often used to mean only the non-baryonic component of dark matter, i.e., excluding "missing baryons." Context will usually indicate which meaning is intended.
The arms of spiral galaxies rotate around the galactic center. The luminous mass density of a spiral galaxy decreases as one goes from the center to the outskirts. If luminous mass were all the matter, then we can model the galaxy as a point mass in the centre and test masses orbiting around it, similar to the Solar System.[note 3] From Kepler's Second Law, it is expected that the rotation velocities will decrease with distance from the center, similar to the Solar System. This is not observed. Instead, the galaxy rotation curve remains flat as distance from the center increases.
If Kepler's laws are correct, then the obvious way to resolve this discrepancy is to conclude that the mass distribution in spiral galaxies is not similar to that of the Solar System. In particular, there is a lot of non-luminous matter (dark matter) in the outskirts of the galaxy.
Stars in bound systems must obey the virial theorem. The theorem, together with the measured velocity distribution, can be used to measure the mass distribution in a bound system, such as elliptical galaxies or globular clusters. With some exceptions, velocity dispersion estimates of elliptical galaxies do not match the predicted velocity dispersion from the observed mass distribution, even assuming complicated distributions of stellar orbits.
As with galaxy rotation curves, the obvious way to resolve the discrepancy is to postulate the existence of non-luminous matter.
Galaxy clusters are particularly important for dark matter studies since their masses can be estimated in three independent ways:
Generally, these three methods are in reasonable agreement that dark matter outweighs visible matter by approximately 5 to 1.
One of the consequences of general relativity is that massive objects (such as a cluster of galaxies) lying between a more distant source (such as a quasar) and an observer should act as a lens to bend the light from this source. The more massive an object, the more lensing is observed.
Strong lensing is the observed distortion of background galaxies into arcs when their light passes through such a gravitational lens. It has been observed around many distant clusters including Abell 1689. By measuring the distortion geometry, the mass of the intervening cluster can be obtained. In the dozens of cases where this has been done, the mass-to-light ratios obtained correspond to the dynamical dark matter measurements of clusters. Lensing can lead to multiple copies of an image. By analyzing the distribution of multiple image copies, scientists have been able to deduce and map the distribution of dark matter around the MACS J0416.1-2403 galaxy cluster.
Weak gravitational lensing investigates minute distortions of galaxies, using statistical analyses from vast galaxy surveys. By examining the apparent shear deformation of the adjacent background galaxies, the mean distribution of dark matter can be characterized. The mass-to-light ratios correspond to dark matter densities predicted by other large-scale structure measurements. Dark matter does not bend light itself; mass (in this case the mass of the dark matter) bends spacetime. Light follows the curvature of spacetime, resulting in the lensing effect.
Although both dark matter and ordinary matter are matter, they do not behave in the same way. In particular, in the early universe, ordinary matter was ionized and interacted strongly with radiation via Thomson scattering. Dark matter does not interact directly with radiation, but it does affect the CMB by its gravitational potential (mainly on large scales), and by its effects on the density and velocity of ordinary matter. Ordinary and dark matter perturbations, therefore, evolve differently with time and leave different imprints on the cosmic microwave background (CMB).
The cosmic microwave background is very close to a perfect blackbody but contains very small temperature anisotropies of a few parts in 100,000. A sky map of anisotropies can be decomposed into an angular power spectrum, which is observed to contain a series of acoustic peaks at near-equal spacing but different heights. The series of peaks can be predicted for any assumed set of cosmological parameters by modern computer codes such as CMBFast and CAMB, and matching theory to data, therefore, constrains cosmological parameters. The first peak mostly shows the density of baryonic matter, while the third peak relates mostly to the density of dark matter, measuring the density of matter and the density of atoms.
The CMB anisotropy was first discovered by COBE in 1992, though this had too coarse resolution to detect the acoustic peaks. After the discovery of the first acoustic peak by the balloon-borne BOOMERanG experiment in 2000, the power spectrum was precisely observed by WMAP in 2003–12, and even more precisely by the Planck spacecraft in 2013–15. The results support the Lambda-CDM model.
The observed CMB angular power spectrum provides powerful evidence in support of dark matter, as its precise structure is well fitted by the Lambda-CDM model, but difficult to reproduce with any competing model such as modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND).
Structure formation refers to the period after the Big Bang when density perturbations collapsed to form stars, galaxies, and clusters. Prior to structure formation, the Friedmann solutions to general relativity describe a homogeneous universe. Later, small anisotropies gradually grew and condensed the homogeneous universe into stars, galaxies and larger structures. Ordinary matter is affected by radiation, which is the dominant element of the universe at very early times. As a result, its density perturbations are washed out and unable to condense into structure. If there were only ordinary matter in the universe, there would not have been enough time for density perturbations to grow into the galaxies and clusters currently seen.
Dark matter provides a solution to this problem because it is unaffected by radiation. Therefore, its density perturbations can grow first. The resulting gravitational potential acts as an attractive potential well for ordinary matter collapsing later, speeding up the structure formation process.
If dark matter does not exist, then the next most likely explanation is that general relativity—the prevailing theory of gravity—is incorrect and must be modified. The Bullet Cluster, the result of a recent collision of two galaxy clusters, provides a challenge for modified gravity theories because its apparent center of mass is far displaced from the baryonic center of mass. Standard dark matter models can easily explain this observation, but modified gravity has a much harder time, especially since the observational evidence is model-independent.
Type Ia supernovae can be used as standard candles to measure extragalactic distances, which can in turn be used to measure how fast the universe has expanded in the past. The data indicates that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, the cause of which is usually ascribed to dark energy. Since observations indicate the universe is almost flat, it is expected that the total energy density of everything in the universe should sum to 1 (Ωtot ~ 1). The measured dark energy density is ΩΛ = ~0.690; the observed ordinary (baryonic) matter energy density is Ωb = ~0.0482 and the energy density of radiation is negligible. This leaves a missing Ωdm = ~0.258 that nonetheless behaves like matter (see technical definition section above)—dark matter.
Baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) are fluctuations in the density of the visible baryonic matter (normal matter) of the universe on large scales. These are predicted to arise in the Lambda-CDM model due to acoustic oscillations in the photon-baryon fluid of the early universe, and can be observed in the cosmic microwave background angular power spectrum. BAOs set up a preferred length scale for baryons. As the dark matter and baryons clumped together after recombination, the effect is much weaker in the galaxy distribution in the nearby universe, but is detectable as a subtle (~ 1 percent) preference for pairs of galaxies to be separated by 147 Mpc, compared to those separated by 130 or 160 Mpc. This feature was predicted theoretically in the 1990s and then discovered in 2005, in two large galaxy redshift surveys, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey. Combining the CMB observations with BAO measurements from galaxy redshift surveys provides a precise estimate of the Hubble constant and the average matter density in the Universe. The results support the Lambda-CDM model.
Large galaxy redshift surveys may be used to make a three-dimensional map of the galaxy distribution. These maps are slightly distorted because distances are estimated from observed redshifts; the redshift contains a contribution from the galaxy's so-called peculiar velocity in addition to the dominant Hubble expansion term. On average, superclusters are expanding but more slowly than the cosmic mean due to their gravity, while voids are expanding faster than average. In a redshift map, galaxies in front of a supercluster have excess radial velocities towards it and have redshifts slightly higher than their distance would imply, while galaxies behind the supercluster have redshifts slightly low for their distance. This effect causes superclusters to appear squashed in the radial direction, and likewise voids are stretched. Their angular positions are unaffected. The effect is not detectable for any one structure since the true shape is not known, but can be measured by averaging over many structures assuming Earth is not at a special location in the Universe.
In astronomical spectroscopy, the Lyman-alpha forest is the sum of the absorption lines arising from the Lyman-alpha transition of neutral hydrogen in the spectra of distant galaxies and quasars. Lyman-alpha forest observations can also constrain cosmological models. These constraints agree with those obtained from WMAP data.
There are various hypotheses about what dark matter could consist of, as set out in the table below.
|Unsolved problem in physics:|
What is dark matter? How is it generated? Is it related to supersymmetry?(more unsolved problems in physics)
|Some dark matter hypotheses|
|Light bosons||quantum chromodynamics axions|
|fuzzy cold dark matter|
|effective field theory|
|self-interacting dark matter|
|superfluid vacuum theory|
|macroscopic||primordial black holes|
|massive compact halo objects (MaCHOs)|
|Macroscopic dark matter (Macros)|
|modified gravity (MOG)||modified Newtonian dynamics (MoND)|
|Tensor–vector–scalar gravity (TeVeS)|
Dark matter can refer to any substance that interacts predominantly via gravity with visible matter (e.g., stars and planets). Hence in principle it need not be composed of a new type of fundamental particle but could, at least in part, be made up of standard baryonic matter, such as protons or neutrons.[note 4] However, for the reasons outlined below, most scientists think the dark matter is dominated by a non-baryonic component, which is likely composed of a currently unknown fundamental particle (or similar exotic state).
Baryons (protons and neutrons) make up ordinary stars and planets. However, baryonic matter also encompasses less common non-primordial black holes, neutron stars, faint old white dwarfs and brown dwarfs, collectively known as massive compact halo objects (MACHOs), which can be hard to detect.
However, multiple lines of evidence suggest the majority of dark matter is not made of baryons:
Candidates for non-baryonic dark matter are hypothetical particles such as axions, sterile neutrinos, weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), gravitationally-interacting massive particles (GIMPs), supersymmetric particles, or primordial black holes. The three neutrino types already observed are indeed abundant, and dark, and matter, but because their individual masses—however uncertain they may be—are almost certainly tiny, they can only supply a small fraction of dark matter, due to limits derived from large-scale structure and high-redshift galaxies.
Unlike baryonic matter, nonbaryonic matter did not contribute to the formation of the elements in the early universe (Big Bang nucleosynthesis) and so its presence is revealed only via its gravitational effects, or weak lensing. In addition, if the particles of which it is composed are supersymmetric, they can undergo annihilation interactions with themselves, possibly resulting in observable by-products such as gamma rays and neutrinos (indirect detection).
If dark matter is composed of weakly-interacting particles, an obvious question is whether it can form objects equivalent to planets, stars, or black holes. The answer has historically been that it cannot, because of two factors:
In 2015–2017 the idea that dense dark matter was composed of primordial black holes, made a comeback following results of gravitation wave measurements which detected the merger of intermediate mass black holes. Black holes with about 30 solar masses are not predicted to form by either stellar collapse (typically less than 15 solar masses) or by the merger of black holes in galactic centers (millions or billions of solar masses). It was proposed that the intermediate mass black holes causing the detected merger formed in the hot dense early phase of the universe due to denser regions collapsing. However this was later ruled out by a survey of about a thousand supernova which detected no gravitational lensing events, although about 8 would be expected if intermediate mass primordial black holes accounted for the majority of dark matter. The possibility that atom-sized primordial black holes account for a significant fraction of dark matter was ruled out by measurements of positron and electron fluxes outside the suns heliosphere by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. Tiny black holes are theorized to emit Hawking radiation. However the detected fluxes were too low and did not have the expected energy spectrum suggesting that tiny primordial black holes are not widespread enough to account for dark matter. None-the-less research and theories proposing that dense dark matter account for dark matter continue as of 2018, including approaches to dark matter cooling, and the question remains unsettled.
Dark matter can be divided into cold, warm, and hot categories. These categories refer to velocity rather than an actual temperature, indicating how far corresponding objects moved due to random motions in the early universe, before they slowed due to cosmic expansion—this is an important distance called the free streaming length (FSL). Primordial density fluctuations smaller than this length get washed out as particles spread from overdense to underdense regions, while larger fluctuations are unaffected; therefore this length sets a minimum scale for later structure formation. The categories are set with respect to the size of a protogalaxy (an object that later evolves into a dwarf galaxy): dark matter particles are classified as cold, warm, or hot according to their FSL; much smaller (cold), similar to (warm), or much larger (hot) than a protogalaxy.
Cold dark matter leads to a bottom-up formation of structure with galaxies forming first and galaxy clusters at a latter stage, while hot dark matter would result in a top-down formation scenario with large matter aggregations forming early, later fragmenting into separate galaxies; the latter is excluded by high-redshift galaxy observations.
Candidate particles can be grouped into three categories on the basis of their effect on the fluctuation spectrum (Bond et al. 1983). If the dark matter is composed of abundant light particles which remain relativistic until shortly before recombination, then it may be termed "hot". The best candidate for hot dark matter is a neutrino ... A second possibility is for the dark matter particles to interact more weakly than neutrinos, to be less abundant, and to have a mass of order 1 keV. Such particles are termed "warm dark matter", because they have lower thermal velocities than massive neutrinos ... there are at present few candidate particles which fit this description. Gravitinos and photinos have been suggested (Pagels and Primack 1982; Bond, Szalay and Turner 1982) ... Any particles which became nonrelativistic very early, and so were able to diffuse a negligible distance, are termed "cold" dark matter (CDM). There are many candidates for CDM including supersymmetric particles.— M. Davis, G. Efstathiou, C.S. Frenk, and S.D.M. White, The evolution of large-scale structure in a universe dominated by cold dark matter
Another approximate dividing line is that warm dark matter became non-relativistic when the universe was approximately 1 year old and 1 millionth of its present size and in the radiation-dominated era (photons and neutrinos), with a photon temperature 2.7 million K. Standard physical cosmology gives the particle horizon size as 2ct (speed of light multiplied by time) in the radiation-dominated era, thus 2 light-years. A region of this size would expand to 2 million light-years today (absent structure formation). The actual FSL is approximately 5 times the above length, since it continues to grow slowly as particle velocities decrease inversely with the scale factor after they become non-relativistic. In this example the FSL would correspond to 10 million light-years, or 3 megaparsecs, today, around the size containing an average large galaxy.
The 2.7 million K photon temperature gives a typical photon energy of 250 electron-volts, thereby setting a typical mass scale for warm dark matter: particles much more massive than this, such as GeV–TeV mass WIMPs, would become non-relativistic much earlier than one year after the Big Bang and thus have FSLs much smaller than a protogalaxy, making them cold. Conversely, much lighter particles, such as neutrinos with masses of only a few eV, have FSLs much larger than a protogalaxy, thus qualifying them as hot.
Cold dark matter offers the simplest explanation for most cosmological observations. It is dark matter composed of constituents with an FSL much smaller than a protogalaxy. This is the focus for dark matter research, as hot dark matter does not seem capable of supporting galaxy or galaxy cluster formation, and most particle candidates slowed early.
The constituents of cold dark matter are unknown. Possibilities range from large objects like MACHOs (such as black holes and Preon stars) or RAMBOs (such as clusters of brown dwarfs), to new particles such as WIMPs and axions.
Studies of Big Bang nucleosynthesis and gravitational lensing convinced most cosmologists that MACHOs cannot make up more than a small fraction of dark matter. According to A. Peter: "... the only really plausible dark-matter candidates are new particles."
The 1997 DAMA/NaI experiment and its successor DAMA/LIBRA in 2013, claimed to directly detect dark matter particles passing through the Earth, but many researchers remain skeptical, as negative results from similar experiments seem incompatible with the DAMA results.
Many supersymmetric models offer dark matter candidates in the form of the WIMPy Lightest Supersymmetric Particle (LSP). Separately, heavy sterile neutrinos exist in non-supersymmetric extensions to the standard model that explain the small neutrino mass through the seesaw mechanism.
Warm dark matter comprises particles with an FSL comparable to the size of a protogalaxy. Predictions based on warm dark matter are similar to those for cold dark matter on large scales, but with less small-scale density perturbations. This reduces the predicted abundance of dwarf galaxies and may lead to lower density of dark matter in the central parts of large galaxies. Some researchers consider this a better fit to observations. A challenge for this model is the lack of particle candidates with the required mass ~ 300 eV to 3000 eV.
No known particles can be categorized as warm dark matter. A postulated candidate is the sterile neutrino: a heavier, slower form of neutrino that does not interact through the weak force, unlike other neutrinos. Some modified gravity theories, such as scalar–tensor–vector gravity, require "warm" dark matter to make their equations work.
Hot dark matter consists of particles whose FSL is much larger than the size of a protogalaxy. The neutrino qualifies as such particle. They were discovered independently, long before the hunt for dark matter: they were postulated in 1930, and detected in 1956. Neutrinos' mass is less than 10−6 that of an electron. Neutrinos interact with normal matter only via gravity and the weak force, making them difficult to detect (the weak force only works over a small distance, thus a neutrino triggers a weak force event only if it hits a nucleus head-on). This makes them 'weakly interacting light particles' (WILPs), as opposed to WIMPs.
The three known flavours of neutrinos are the electron, muon, and tau. Their masses are slightly different. Neutrinos oscillate among the flavours as they move. It is hard to determine an exact upper bound on the collective average mass of the three neutrinos (or for any of the three individually). For example, if the average neutrino mass were over 50 eV/c2 (less than 10−5 of the mass of an electron), the universe would collapse. CMB data and other methods indicate that their average mass probably does not exceed 0.3 eV/c2. Thus, observed neutrinos cannot explain dark matter.
Because galaxy-size density fluctuations get washed out by free-streaming, hot dark matter implies that the first objects that can form are huge supercluster-size pancakes, which then fragment into galaxies. Deep-field observations show instead that galaxies formed first, followed by clusters and superclusters as galaxies clump together.
If dark matter is made up of sub-atomic particles, then millions, possibly billions, of such particles must pass through every square centimeter of the Earth each second. Many experiments aim to test this hypothesis. Although WIMPs are popular search candidates, the Axion Dark Matter Experiment (ADMX) searches for axions. Another candidate is heavy hidden sector particles that only interact with ordinary matter via gravity.
These experiments can be divided into two classes: direct detection experiments, which search for the scattering of dark matter particles off atomic nuclei within a detector; and indirect detection, which look for the products of dark matter particle annihilations or decays.
Direct detection experiments aim to observe low-energy recoils (typically a few keVs) of nuclei induced by interactions with particles of dark matter, which (in theory) are passing through the Earth. After such a recoil the nucleus will emit energy in the form of scintillation light or phonons, as they pass through sensitive detection apparatus. To do this effectively, it is crucial to maintain a low background, and so such experiments operate deep underground to reduce the interference from cosmic rays. Examples of underground laboratories with direct detection experiments include the Stawell mine, the Soudan mine, the SNOLAB underground laboratory at Sudbury, the Gran Sasso National Laboratory, the Canfranc Underground Laboratory, the Boulby Underground Laboratory, the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory and the China Jinping Underground Laboratory.
These experiments mostly use either cryogenic or noble liquid detector technologies. Cryogenic detectors operating at temperatures below 100 mK, detect the heat produced when a particle hits an atom in a crystal absorber such as germanium. Noble liquid detectors detect scintillation produced by a particle collision in liquid xenon or argon. Cryogenic detector experiments include: CDMS, CRESST, EDELWEISS, EURECA. Noble liquid experiments include ZEPLIN, XENON, DEAP, ArDM, WARP, DarkSide, PandaX, and LUX, the Large Underground Xenon experiment. Both of these techniques focus strongly on their ability to distinguish background particles (which predominantly scatter off electrons) from dark matter particles (that scatter off nuclei). Other experiments include SIMPLE and PICASSO.
Currently there has been no well-established claim of dark matter detection from a direct detection experiment, leading instead to strong upper limits on the mass and interaction cross section with nucleons of such dark matter particles. The DAMA/NaI and more recent DAMA/LIBRA experimental collaborations have detected an annual modulation in the rate of events in their detectors, which they claim is due to dark matter. This results from the expectation that as the Earth orbits the Sun, the velocity of the detector relative to the dark matter halo will vary by a small amount. This claim is so far unconfirmed and in contradiction with negative results from other experiments such as LUX and SuperCDMS.
A special case of direct detection experiments covers those with directional sensitivity. This is a search strategy based on the motion of the Solar System around the Galactic Center. A low-pressure time projection chamber makes it possible to access information on recoiling tracks and constrain WIMP-nucleus kinematics. WIMPs coming from the direction in which the Sun travels (approximately towards Cygnus) may then be separated from background, which should be isotropic. Directional dark matter experiments include DMTPC, DRIFT, Newage and MIMAC.
Indirect detection experiments search for the products of the self-annihilation or decay of dark matter particles in outer space. For example, in regions of high dark matter density (e.g., the centre of our galaxy) two dark matter particles could annihilate to produce gamma rays or Standard Model particle-antiparticle pairs. Alternatively if the dark matter particle is unstable, it could decay into standard model (or other) particles. These processes could be detected indirectly through an excess of gamma rays, antiprotons or positrons emanating from high density regions in our galaxy or others. A major difficulty inherent in such searches is that various astrophysical sources can mimic the signal expected from dark matter, and so multiple signals are likely required for a conclusive discovery.
A few of the dark matter particles passing through the Sun or Earth may scatter off atoms and lose energy. Thus dark matter may accumulate at the center of these bodies, increasing the chance of collision/annihilation. This could produce a distinctive signal in the form of high-energy neutrinos. Such a signal would be strong indirect proof of WIMP dark matter. High-energy neutrino telescopes such as AMANDA, IceCube and ANTARES are searching for this signal. The detection by LIGO in September 2015 of gravitational waves, opens the possibility of observing dark matter in a new way, particularly if it is in the form of primordial black holes.
Many experimental searches have been undertaken to look for such emission from dark matter annihilation or decay, examples of which follow. The Energetic Gamma Ray Experiment Telescope observed more gamma rays in 2008 than expected from the Milky Way, but scientists concluded that this was most likely due to incorrect estimation of the telescope's sensitivity.
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is searching for similar gamma rays. In April 2012, an analysis of previously available data from its Large Area Telescope instrument produced statistical evidence of a 130 GeV signal in the gamma radiation coming from the center of the Milky Way. WIMP annihilation was seen as the most probable explanation.
In 2013 results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station indicated excess high-energy cosmic rays that could be due to dark matter annihilation.
An alternative approach to the detection of dark matter particles in nature is to produce them in a laboratory. Experiments with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) may be able to detect dark matter particles produced in collisions of the LHC proton beams. Because a dark matter particle should have negligible interactions with normal visible matter, it may be detected indirectly as (large amounts of) missing energy and momentum that escape the detectors, provided other (non-negligible) collision products are detected. Constraints on dark matter also exist from the LEP experiment using a similar principle, but probing the interaction of dark matter particles with electrons rather than quarks. It is important to note that any discovery from collider searches must be corroborated by discoveries in the indirect or direct detection sectors to prove that the particle discovered is, in fact, dark matter.
Because dark matter remains to be conclusively identified, many other hypotheses have emerged aiming to explain the observational phenomena that dark matter was conceived to explain. The most common method is to modify general relativity. General relativity is well-tested on solar system scales, but its validity on galactic or cosmological scales has not been well proven. A suitable modification to general relativity can conceivably eliminate the need for dark matter. The best-known theories of this class are MOND and its relativistic generalization tensor-vector-scalar gravity (TeVeS), f(R) gravity, negative mass dark fluid, and entropic gravity. Alternative theories abound.
A problem with alternative hypotheses is that the observational evidence for dark matter comes from so many independent approaches (see the "observational evidence" section above). Explaining any individual observation is possible but explaining all of them is very difficult. Nonetheless, there have been some scattered successes for alternative hypotheses, such as a 2016 test of gravitational lensing in entropic gravity.
The prevailing opinion among most astrophysicists is that while modifications to general relativity can conceivably explain part of the observational evidence, there is probably enough data to conclude there must be some form of dark matter.
In philosophy of science, dark matter is an example of an auxiliary hypothesis, an ad hoc postulate that is added to a theory in response to observations that falsify it. It has been argued that the dark matter hypothesis is a conventionalist hypothesis, that is, a hypothesis that adds no empirical content and hence is unfalsifiable in the sense defined by Karl Popper.
Mention of dark matter is made in works of fiction. In such cases, it is usually attributed extraordinary physical or magical properties. Such descriptions are often inconsistent with the hypothesized properties of dark matter in physics and cosmology.
It is incidentally suggested that when the theory is perfected it may be possible to determine the amount of dark matter from its gravitational effect.(emphasis in original)
One widely held belief about dark matter is that it cannot cool off by radiating energy. If it could, then it might bunch together and create compact objects in the same way that baryonic matter forms planets, stars, and galaxies. Observations so far suggest that dark matter doesn't do that—it resides only in diffuse halos ... As a result, it is extremely unlikely there are very dense objects like stars made out of entirely (or even mostly) dark matter.
MACHOs can only account for a very small percentage of the nonluminous mass in our galaxy, revealing that most dark matter cannot be strongly concentrated or exist in the form of baryonic astrophysical objects. Although microlensing surveys rule out baryonic objects like brown dwarfs, black holes, and neutron stars in our galactic halo, can other forms of baryonic matter make up the bulk of dark matter? The answer, surprisingly, is no...
Scientists at Kavli MIT are working on...a tool to track the movement of dark matter.
While their existence has not been established with certainty, primordial black holes have in the past been suggested as a possible solution to the dark matter mystery. Because there’s so little evidence of them, though, the primordial black hole-dark matter hypothesis has not gained a large following among scientists. The LIGO findings, however, raise the prospect anew, especially as the objects detected in that experiment conform to the mass predicted for dark matter. Predictions made by scientists in the past held that conditions at the birth of the universe would produce lots of these primordial black holes distributed approximately evenly in the universe, clustering in halos around galaxies. All this would make them good candidates for dark matter.
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the observable universe from the earliest known periods through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the universe expanded from a very high-density and high-temperature state, and offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of phenomena, including the abundance of light elements, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), large scale structure and Hubble's law (the farther away galaxies are, the faster they are moving away from Earth). If the observed conditions are extrapolated backwards in time using the known laws of physics, the prediction is that just before a period of very high density there was a singularity which is typically associated with the Big Bang. Physicists are undecided whether this means the universe began from a singularity, or that current knowledge is insufficient to describe the universe at that time. Detailed measurements of the expansion rate of the universe place the Big Bang at around 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe. After its initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later simple atoms. Giant clouds of these primordial elements (mostly hydrogen, with some helium and lithium) later coalesced through gravity, eventually forming early stars and galaxies, the descendants of which are visible today. Astronomers also observe the gravitational effects of dark matter surrounding galaxies. Though most of the mass in the universe seems to be in the form of dark matter, Big Bang theory and various observations seem to indicate that it is not made out of conventional baryonic matter (protons, neutrons, and electrons) but it is unclear exactly what it is made out of.
Since Georges Lemaître first noted in 1927 that an expanding universe could be traced back in time to an originating single point, scientists have built on his idea of cosmic expansion. The scientific community was once divided between supporters of two different theories, the Big Bang and the Steady State theory, but a wide range of empirical evidence has strongly favored the Big Bang which is now universally accepted. In 1929, from analysis of galactic redshifts, Edwin Hubble concluded that galaxies are drifting apart; this is important observational evidence consistent with the hypothesis of an expanding universe. In 1964, the cosmic microwave background radiation was discovered, which was crucial evidence in favor of the Big Bang model, since that theory predicted the existence of background radiation throughout the universe before it was discovered. More recently, measurements of the redshifts of supernovae indicate that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, an observation attributed to dark energy's existence. The known physical laws of nature can be used to calculate the characteristics of the universe in detail back in time to an initial state of extreme density and temperature.Bullet Cluster
The Bullet Cluster (1E 0657-558) consists of two colliding clusters of galaxies. Strictly speaking, the name Bullet Cluster refers to the smaller subcluster, moving away from the larger one. It is at a co-moving radial distance of 1.141 Gpc (3.7 billion light-years).Gravitational lensing studies of the Bullet Cluster are claimed to provide the best evidence to date for the existence of dark matter.Observations of other galaxy cluster collisions, such as MACS J0025.4-1222, are similarly claimed to support the existence of dark matter.Cold dark matter
In cosmology and physics, cold dark matter (CDM) is a hypothetical type of dark matter. Observations indicate that approximately 85% of the matter in the universe is dark matter, with only a small fraction being the ordinary baryonic matter that composes stars, planets, and living organisms. Cold refers to the fact that the dark matter moves slowly compared to the speed of light, while dark indicates that it interacts very weakly with ordinary matter and electromagnetic radiation.
The physical nature of CDM is currently unknown, and there are a wide variety of possibilities. Among them are a new type of weakly interacting massive particle, primordial black holes, and axions.Dark Matter (TV series)
Dark Matter is a Canadian science fiction series created by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, based on their comic book of the same name and developed by Prodigy Pictures in association with Space channel. An order for 13 episodes was placed for the first season of the series, which premiered on June 12, 2015 on both Space and Syfy.On September 5, 2015, the series was renewed for a second season. Dark Matter was renewed for a 13-episode third season in September 2016, which premiered on June 9, 2017. On September 1, 2017, Syfy canceled the series after three seasons.Dark Matter Particle Explorer
The Dark Matter Particle Explorer, or DAMPE (also known as Wukong), is a Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) satellite which launched on 17 December 2015. The satellite was launched on a Long March 2D rocket from Launch Pad 603 at the LC-43 complex, also known as the South Launch Site, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. It is China's first ever space observatory.
DAMPE is a space telescope used for the detection of high energy gamma rays, electrons and cosmic ray ions, to aid in the search for dark matter. It was designed to look for the indirect decay signal of a hypothetical dark matter candidate called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs).The project is the result of a collaboration among research institutions and universities in Italy, Switzerland and China under the leadership of the Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).Dark energy
In physical cosmology and astronomy, dark energy is an unknown form of energy which is hypothesized to permeate all of space, tending to accelerate the expansion of the universe. Dark energy is the most accepted hypothesis to explain the observations since the 1990s indicating that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.Assuming that the standard model of cosmology is correct, the best current measurements indicate that dark energy contributes 68% of the total energy in the present-day observable universe. The mass–energy of dark matter and ordinary (baryonic) matter contribute 27% and 5%, respectively, and other components such as neutrinos and photons contribute a very small amount. The density of dark energy is very low (~ 7 × 10−30 g/cm3) much less than the density of ordinary matter or dark matter within galaxies. However, it dominates the mass–energy of the universe because it is uniform across space.Two proposed forms for dark energy are the cosmological constant, representing a constant energy density filling space homogeneously, and scalar fields such as quintessence or moduli, dynamic quantities whose energy density can vary in time and space. Contributions from scalar fields that are constant in space are usually also included in the cosmological constant. The cosmological constant can be formulated to be equivalent to the zero-point radiation of space i.e. the vacuum energy. Scalar fields that change in space can be difficult to distinguish from a cosmological constant because the change may be extremely slow.Dark fluid
In astronomy and cosmology, dark fluid is an alternative theory to both dark matter and dark energy and attempts to explain both phenomena in a single framework.Dark fluid proposes that dark matter and dark energy are not separate physical phenomena as previously thought, nor do they have separate origins, but that they are strongly linked together and can be considered as two facets of a single fluid. At galactic scales, the dark fluid behaves like dark matter, and at larger scales its behavior becomes similar to dark energy. Our observations within the scales of the Earth and the Solar System are currently insufficient to explain the gravitational effects observed at such larger scales. A simple dark fluid with negative mass has been shown to have the properties required to explain both dark matter and dark energy.Dark galaxy
A dark galaxy is a hypothesized galaxy with no, or very few, stars. They received their name because they have no visible stars, but may be detectable if they contain significant amounts of gas. Astronomers have long theorized the existence of dark galaxies, but there are no confirmed examples to date. Dark galaxies are distinct from intergalactic gas clouds caused by galactic tidal interactions, since these gas clouds do not contain dark matter, so they do not technically qualify as galaxies. Distinguishing between intergalactic gas clouds and galaxies is difficult; most candidate dark galaxies turn out to be tidal gas clouds. The best candidate dark galaxies to date include HI1225+01, AGC229385, and numerous gas clouds detected in studies of quasars.
On 25 August 2016, astronomers reported that Dragonfly 44, an ultra diffuse galaxy (UDG) with the mass of the Milky Way galaxy, but with nearly no discernable stars or galactic structure, may be made almost entirely of dark matter.Dark matter halo
A dark matter halo is a theoretical component of a galaxy that envelops the galactic disc and extends well beyond the edge of the visible galaxy. The halo's mass dominates the total mass. Thought to consist of dark matter, halos have not been observed directly. Their existence is inferred through their effects on the motions of stars and gas in galaxies. Dark matter halos play a key role in current models of galaxy formation and evolution. The dark matter halo is not fully explained by the presence of massive compact halo objects (MACHOs).Dark radiation
Dark radiation (also dark electromagnetism) is a postulated type of radiation that mediates interactions of dark matter.
By analogy to the way photons mediate electromagnetic interactions between particles in the Standard Model (called baryonic matter in cosmology), dark radiation is proposed to mediate interactions between dark matter particles. Similar to dark matter particles, the hypothetical dark radiation does not interact with Standard Model particles.
There has been no notable evidence for the existence of such radiation, but since baryonic matter contains multiple interacting particle types, it is reasonable to suppose that dark matter does also. Moreover, it has been pointed out recently that the cosmic microwave background data seems to suggest that the number of effective neutrino degrees of freedom is more than 3.046, which is slightly more than the standard case for 3 types of neutrino. This extra degree of freedom could arise from having a non-trivial amount of dark radiation in the universe. One possible candidate for dark radiation is the sterile neutrino.Dark star (dark matter)
A dark star is a type of star that may have existed early in the universe before conventional stars were able to form. The stars would be composed mostly of normal matter, like modern stars, but a high concentration of neutralino dark matter within them would generate heat via annihilation reactions between the dark-matter particles. This heat would prevent such stars from collapsing into the relatively compact sizes of modern stars and therefore prevent nuclear fusion among the normal matter atoms from being initiated.Under this model, a dark star is predicted to be an enormous cloud of hydrogen and helium ranging between 4 and 2000 astronomical units in diameter and with a surface temperature low enough that the emitted radiation would be invisible to the naked eye.In the unlikely event that dark stars have endured to the modern era, they could be detectable by their emissions of gamma rays, neutrinos, and antimatter and would be associated with clouds of cold molecular hydrogen gas that normally would not harbor such energetic particles.GZA
Gary E. Grice (born August 22, 1966), better known by his stage names GZA ( JIZ-ə) and The Genius, is an American rapper and songwriter. A founding member of the hip hop group the Wu-Tang Clan, GZA is the group's "spiritual head", being both the oldest and the first in the group to receive a record deal. He has appeared on his fellow Clan members' solo projects, and has maintained a successful solo career starting with Liquid Swords (1995).
His lyrical style often dismisses typical rap story lines in favor of science and wide-ranging philosophies and has been characterized as "armed with sharp metaphors and a smooth flow". An analysis of GZA's lyrics found that he has the fourth largest vocabulary in popular hip hop music. He teamed up with an education group to promote science education in New York City through hip hop.Galactic halo
A galactic halo is an extended, roughly spherical component of a galaxy which extends beyond the main, visible component. Several distinct components of galaxies comprise the halo:
the stellar halo
the galactic corona (hot gas, i.e. a plasma)
the dark matter haloThe distinction between the halo and the main body of the galaxy is clearest in spiral galaxies, where the spherical shape of the halo contrasts with the flat disc. In an elliptical galaxy, there is no sharp transition between the other components of the galaxy and the halo.Galaxy rotation curve
The rotation curve of a disc galaxy (also called a velocity curve) is a plot of the orbital speeds of visible stars or gas in that galaxy versus their radial distance from that galaxy's centre. It is typically rendered graphically as a plot, and the data observed from each side of a spiral galaxy are generally asymmetric, so that data from each side are averaged to create the curve. A significant discrepancy exists between the experimental curves observed, and a curve derived from theory. The theory of dark matter is currently postulated to account for the variance.Lambda-CDM model
The ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) or Lambda-CDM model is a parametrization of the Big Bang cosmological model in which the universe contains three major components: first, a cosmological constant denoted by Lambda (Greek Λ) and associated with dark energy; second, the postulated cold dark matter (abbreviated CDM); and third, ordinary matter. It is frequently referred to as the standard model of Big Bang cosmology because it is the simplest model that provides a reasonably good account of the following properties of the cosmos:
the existence and structure of the cosmic microwave background
the large-scale structure in the distribution of galaxies
the abundances of hydrogen (including deuterium), helium, and lithium
the accelerating expansion of the universe observed in the light from distant galaxies and supernovaeThe model assumes that general relativity is the correct theory of gravity on cosmological scales. It emerged in the late 1990s as a concordance cosmology, after a period of time when disparate observed properties of the universe appeared mutually inconsistent, and there was no consensus on the makeup of the energy density of the universe.
The ΛCDM model can be extended by adding cosmological inflation, quintessence and other elements that are current areas of speculation and research in cosmology.
Some alternative models challenge the assumptions of the ΛCDM model. Examples of these are modified Newtonian dynamics, entropic gravity, modified gravity, theories of large-scale variations in the matter density of the universe, bimetric gravity, and scale invariance of empty space.Modified Newtonian dynamics
Modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) is a theory that proposes a modification of Newton's laws to account for observed properties of galaxies. It is an alternative to the theory of dark matter in terms of explaining why galaxies do not appear to obey the currently understood laws of physics.
Created in 1982 and first published in 1983 by Israeli physicist Mordehai Milgrom, the theory's original motivation was to explain why the velocities of stars in galaxies were observed to be larger than expected based on Newtonian mechanics. Milgrom noted that this discrepancy could be resolved if the gravitational force experienced by a star in the outer regions of a galaxy was proportional to the square of its centripetal acceleration (as opposed to the centripetal acceleration itself, as in Newton's second law), or alternatively if gravitational force came to vary inversely with radius (as opposed to the inverse square of the radius, as in Newton's law of gravity). In MOND, violation of Newton's laws occurs at extremely small accelerations, characteristic of galaxies yet far below anything typically encountered in the Solar System or on Earth.
MOND is an example of a class of theories known as modified gravity, and is an alternative to the hypothesis that the dynamics of galaxies are determined by massive, invisible dark matter halos. Since Milgrom's original proposal, MOND has successfully predicted a variety of galactic phenomena that are difficult to understand from a dark matter perspective. However, MOND and its generalisations do not adequately account for observed properties of galaxy clusters, and no satisfactory cosmological model has been constructed from the theory.
The accurate measurement of the speed of gravitational waves compared to the speed of light in 2017 ruled out many theories which used modified gravity to explain dark matter.
However, both Milgrom’s bi-metric formulation of MOND and nonlocal MOND are not ruled out according to the same study.Neutralino
In supersymmetry, the neutralino is a hypothetical particle. In the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (MSSM), a popular model of realization of supersymmetry at a low energy, there are four neutralinos that are fermions and are electrically neutral, the lightest of which is stable in an R-parity conserved scenario of MSSM. They are typically labeled
1 (the lightest),
4 (the heaviest) although sometimes is also used when is used to refer to charginos. These four states are mixtures of the bino and the neutral wino (which are the neutral electroweak gauginos), and the neutral higgsinos. As the neutralinos are Majorana fermions, each of them is identical to its antiparticle. Because these particles only interact with the weak vector bosons, they are not directly produced at hadron colliders in copious numbers. They would primarily appear as particles in cascade decays of heavier particles (decays that happen in multiple steps) usually originating from colored supersymmetric particles such as squarks or gluinos.
In R-parity conserving models, the lightest neutralino is stable and all supersymmetric cascade-decays end up decaying into this particle which leaves the detector unseen and its existence can only be inferred by looking for unbalanced momentum in a detector.
The heavier neutralinos typically decay through a neutral Z boson to a lighter neutralino or through a charged W boson to a light chargino:
The mass splittings between the different neutralinos will dictate which patterns of decays are allowed.
Up to present, neutralinos have never been observed or detected in an experiment.Universe
The Universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. While the spatial size of the entire Universe is unknown, it is possible to measure the size of the observable universe, which is currently estimated to be 93 billion light years in diameter. In various multiverse hypotheses, a universe is one of many causally disconnected constituent parts of a larger multiverse, which itself comprises all of space and time and its contents.The earliest scientific models of the Universe were developed by ancient Greek and Indian philosophers and were geocentric, placing Earth at the center of the Universe. Over the centuries, more precise astronomical observations led Nicolaus Copernicus to develop the heliocentric model with the Sun at the center of the Solar System. In developing the law of universal gravitation, Isaac Newton built upon Copernicus' work as well as observations by Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler's laws of planetary motion.
Further observational improvements led to the realization that the Sun is one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, which is one of at least hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe. Many of the stars in our galaxy have planets. At the largest scale galaxies are distributed uniformly and the same in all directions, meaning that the Universe has neither an edge nor a center. At smaller scales, galaxies are distributed in clusters and superclusters which form immense filaments and voids in space, creating a vast foam-like structure. Discoveries in the early 20th century have suggested that the Universe had a beginning and that space has been expanding since then, and is currently still expanding at an increasing rate.The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development of the Universe. Under this theory, space and time emerged together 13.799±0.021 billion years ago and the energy and matter initially present have become less dense as the Universe expanded. After an initial accelerated expansion called the inflationary epoch at around 10−32 seconds, and the separation of the four known fundamental forces, the Universe gradually cooled and continued to expand, allowing the first subatomic particles and simple atoms to form. Dark matter gradually gathered forming a foam-like structure of filaments and voids under the influence of gravity. Giant clouds of hydrogen and helium were gradually drawn to the places where dark matter was most dense, forming the first galaxies, stars, and everything else seen today. It is possible to see objects that are now further away than 13.799 billion light-years because space itself has expanded, and it is still expanding today. This means that objects which are now up to 46.5 billion light-years away can still be seen in their distant past, because in the past when their light was emitted, they were much closer to the Earth.
From studying the movement of galaxies, it has been discovered that the universe contains much more matter than is accounted for by visible objects; stars, galaxies, nebulas and interstellar gas. This unseen matter is known as dark matter (dark means that there is a wide range of strong indirect evidence that it exists, but we have not yet detected it directly). The ΛCDM model is the most widely accepted model of our universe. It suggests that about 69.2%±1.2%  of the mass and energy in the universe is a cosmological constant (or, in extensions to ΛCDM, other forms of dark energy such as a scalar field) which is responsible for the current expansion of space, and about 25.8%±1.1%  is dark matter. Ordinary ("baryonic") matter is therefore only 4.9%  of the physical universe. Stars, planets, and visible gas clouds only form about 6% of ordinary matter, or about 0.3% of the entire universe.There are many competing hypotheses about the ultimate fate of the universe and about what, if anything, preceded the Big Bang, while other physicists and philosophers refuse to speculate, doubting that information about prior states will ever be accessible. Some physicists have suggested various multiverse hypotheses, in which our universe might be one among many universes that likewise exist.Weakly interacting massive particles
Weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) are hypothetical particles that are thought to constitute dark matter. There exists no clear definition of a WIMP, but broadly, a WIMP is a new elementary particle which interacts via gravity and any other force (or forces), potentially not part of the standard model itself, which is as weak as or weaker than the weak nuclear force, but also non-vanishing in its strength. A WIMP must also have been produced thermally in the early Universe, similarly to the particles of the standard model according to Big Bang cosmology, and usually will constitute cold dark matter. Obtaining the correct abundance of dark matter today via thermal production requires a self-annihilation cross section of , which is roughly what is expected for a new particle in the 100 GeV mass range that interacts via the electroweak force. Because supersymmetric extensions of the standard model of particle physics readily predict a new particle with these properties, this apparent coincidence is known as the "WIMP miracle", and a stable supersymmetric partner has long been a prime WIMP candidate. However, recent null results from direct-detection experiments along with the failure to produce evidence of supersymmetry in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment has cast doubt on the simplest WIMP hypothesis. Experimental efforts to detect WIMPs include the search for products of WIMP annihilation, including gamma rays, neutrinos and cosmic rays in nearby galaxies and galaxy clusters; direct detection experiments designed to measure the collision of WIMPs with nuclei in the laboratory, as well as attempts to directly produce WIMPs in colliders, such as the LHC.
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