Only imagine that just a few hundred years ago we did not know whether we were spinning around the sun or, on the contrary, it turned around us. Nowadays, any first grader knows the answer to this question – mankind has become much smarter over the years, but, unfortunately, because of this, there have appeared much more mysteries of the universe. Finding the answer to one question, we received two new ones. And so, hundreds of years later we learned how to solve very difficult puzzles, but so far science cannot provide answers to many fundamental questions. Today we will discuss in detail about one of them, so what is dark matter?
- How does the universe work?
- What is our universe glued by?
- What is “dark matter”?
1. How does the universe work?
In order to go to the main topic of today’s material, first, we need to understand how our Universe is organized. So, we know that the Earth rotates around the Sun, our native star revolves with us around the center of our Milky Way galaxy. This galaxy and about 50 more of its neighbors rotate around an invisible center of gravity in the local group of galaxies that are located inside the “Virgo Supercluster”. As well as other superclusters, it turned out to be only a small part of an even larger structure called the “Supercluster Laniakea”. It is important to note that the objects in it do not rotate around a certain point, they tend to “fall” into the super heavy gravitational anomaly – the “Great Attractor”.
Unfortunately, because of the specific location of the Milky Way, we cannot examine this object in detail. The fact is that the disk of our galaxy closes our view. But today we are not interested in the attractor itself, but in the huge empty area that is located opposite it – the “Dipole Pusher”. Scientists call such empty areas in space “voids”. If you look at the visible part of the universe from the side, it is possible to see that it is a countless number of woven galactic filaments separated by such voids.
That’s exactly what our whole world looks like if you imagine it in one picture. If you want to realize the real size of our universe, we recommend watching this short video. It shows how our world works very visually, and most importantly, on a scale.
2. What is our universe glued by?
This is a huge ocean, which consists of galaxies, black holes, quasars, stars, planets and other space objects with a length of 14 billion light years and all these all are connected by galactic filaments. And only now we have got to the most important space issue of the 21st century: “By what are all these threads connected to each other?”.
The first answer that comes to mind is gravity, but we hurry to upset you: this is not a correct hypothesis. The fact is that the amount of matter that was found in superclusters is simply not enough to create such an incredibly complex and huge web. According to mathematical calculations, the clusters should have scattered long ago, but on the contrary, they gather into a very strong web.
This paradox does not give rest to the leading astrophysicists of our planet since 1970s. Then they measured the speed of rotation of the stars of the “Milky Way”, which are at different distances from the center of the galaxy. Mathematically, everything should be relatively simple: if the mass and radius of an object are known, then it is easy to calculate the speed of its rotation. But what they learned absolutely did not coincide with mathematics. Objects that were on the outskirts of the galaxy, were moving at a much higher speed than expected. This paradox has only two logical explanations:
- The Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein equations work not in the entire Universe. This means that to understand this phenomenon, we need another physics.
- There is some unknown substance on the outskirts of the galaxy, that is invisible to us. There would have to be a lot of this substance, scientists call it “dark matter”.
Although it would be much more correct to call this substance a “transparent” or even “ghostly” matter. The fact is that it is completely invisible, it cannot absorb, as well as emit radio waves, electromagnetic pulses, X-rays and ultraviolet radiation. Everything that passes through it is absolutely in no way in contact with it, for this reason, it is invisible to us. At the same time, “dark matter” is scattered unevenly throughout our universe: somewhere it can dominate dozens of times, and somewhere just two times. For example, in our galaxy, there is twice more of the invisible matter than the visible. It surrounds the “Milky Way” in a huge sphere. The unevenness of dark matter is the reason for creating the very huge network of galactic filaments, which we mentioned earlier.
3. What is “dark matter”?
The best scientists in the world still do not know exactly the nature of its origin. The more physicists go into studying this topic, the better they understand things that dark matter is not. First of all, dark matter and antimatter should not be confused, since these are completely two different concepts. The first interacts with absolutely any visible matter in our Universe only by means of gravity, without destroying its particles, what can be said about antimatter, which enters into a very explosive reaction with a common substance. For example, a reaction of 1 kg of antimatter with 1 kg of matter would release 1.8⋅1017 joules of energy, which is equivalent to the 2047 nuclear warheads that were dropped on Nagasaki in 1945.
Initially, scientists have suggested that there is a huge amount of the so-called MACHO (massive astrophysical compact halo object) behind a dark matter – these are super heavy but very compact objects (neutron stars, brown dwarfs, black holes). But if all dark matter would consist exclusively of such objects, then there would be a curvature of space and time in the whole Universe.
Since we do not see it, the scientists had only one way out – to search for the answer in quantum physics. The researchers decided to start searching for particles, which were unknown up to now. According to the standard model of quantum physics, the Universe consists of 17 elementary particles. And as you probably already guessed, there is no dark matter among them. Today the best laboratory for such experiments is the Large Hadron Collider. In this almost 27-kilometer tube, scientists disperse protons to 99.99% of the speed of light and push them together. They hope that while a collision they will disintegrate into smaller components, among which there will be new particles that are still unknown.
And finally, in 2012, the Higgs boson, which was scientifically substantiated in 1964, was discovered. It is worth noting that the very particle of which dark matter consists is still not found. Astrophysics gave it the name WIMP, it is known only that it must be slow (by the standards of the quantum world, of course) and heavy.
We want to remind you:
Few people know, but each of us every day sees the largest “collider” in our solar system — this is our Sun. And what could not be obtained on earth in the laboratory – can be extracted in the core of our native star. Recall that the sun flies at tremendous speed through a cloud of dark matter in our galaxy. At the same time, due to the large gravity, it captures and accumulates particles of the “Milky Way”.
Physicists have the following supposition: since wimps, in theory, are rather slow, they cannot overcome the gravity of the sun. From this it follows that they should get stuck in its center and having gathered there in large numbers under the influence of enormous pressure, they will begin to disintegrate into smaller particles – the “Neutrino”. It is worth noting that humanity has long been known about their existence and we also know that the Sun constantly throws a huge amount of this substance into open space. But it is worth noting that scientists will immediately be able to recognize precisely those “Neutrino” that are born at the place of dark matter annihilation. These particles will have a tremendous amount of energy. Right now, humanity is looking for these “Neutrino” through rather strange underwater telescopes located on Baikal, in Antarctica, etc.
There is another theory, according to which dark matter can consist not of a single particle, but of a whole separate world, a mirror to our own. As it is known, the web of galactic filaments repeats the shape of dark matter. But we also know that visible matter consists not from a single particle, but from 17 (so much is known so far). Based on this, it is quite logical to assume that dark matter can be just the same complex and multifaceted. That is, the “dark twin brothers” of elementary particles can be hidden behind it: dark electrons and protons combine together to create dark atoms, and dark photons merge together to form a “dark light.”
Yes, this sounds quite absurd, but it is worth remembering that a few centuries ago it was considered absurd to say that our planet has the shape of a sphere. Therefore, it is impossible to reject any scientific theory until the opposite is proved.
Scientists seriously suggest that at the very beginning of the existence of our Universe, ordinary particles could turn into dark ones and vice versa. In order to prove this theory, scientists need to build a much more powerful collider than the one located on the border of Switzerland and France. And it is worth noting that it is already being developed. Representatives of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) reported on their future plans for the construction of a new particle accelerator. They called it the “Future Circular Collider”. According to preliminary data, it will be 4 times bigger and 10 times more powerful than the current one. The organization plans to launch it by 2050, and its estimated cost at this stage is near 20 billion euros.
Our planet, together with the Sun, is continuously moving around the center of our galaxy. For this reason, trillions of dark matter particles constantly collide with the Earth. According to rough estimates, dark matter interacts with the human body about 11 times an hour.
Of course, scientists have so far managed to detect “dark” stars or planets. In fairness, it is worth noting that such objects would be real traps. The fact is that any visible object that would fall on the surface of the “dark planet”, would begin to fall inward until it reached its center, where the force of gravity would hold it forever.
Dark matter is one of the most basic scientific tasks of this century, on the solution of which the best minds of mankind daily work. It is unlikely that we will make a breakthrough in this matter in the coming years, but one day, of course, scientists will solve this difficult puzzle. After that, they will face new, more complex puzzles, about which we do not even suspect.
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