5 Intriguing Theories about Dark Matter

5 Intriguing Theories about Dark Matter

5 Intriguing Theories about Dark Matter
Image Credits: Inverse

Dark matter is a hypothetical invisible mass, which is responsible for the force of gravity among galaxies and other celestial bodies. Although researchers don’t have any concrete information about this puzzling entity, they did come up with a number of intriguing theories about this enigmatic mass. Following is a list of 5 dark matter theories that are quite interesting.

Weakly Interactive Massive Particle (WIMP)

WIMP - Dark Matter

WIMPs are hypothetical particles that are thought to constitute dark matter. These heavy, electromagnetically neutral subatomic particles are hypothesized to make up 22% of the entire universe. They are thought to be heavy and slow-moving because if the dark matter particles were light and fast, they would not have clumped together in the density fluctuations from which galaxies and clusters of galaxies are formed. The precise nature of these particles is currently unknown and they do not abide by the laws of the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Axion

Axion - Dark Matter

Axions are believed to be neutral, slow-moving particles that are a billion times lighter than electrons. They rarely interact with light and this behavior has urged scientists to believe that Axion could be a building block of the dark matter. An attempt to detect these particles was made in April 2018 by the physicists from the University of Washington. The main idea of this theory suggests that if axions are constantly dashing towards Earth, powerful magnets may be able to convert some of the axions into microwave photons, which are easier to detect. Their work is commonly known as the Axion Dark Matter Experiment (ADMX) and this theory has not enjoyed much success, since then.

Fuzzy Dark Matter

Fuzzy

Fuzzy dark matter is a hypothetical form of cold dark matter. Despite the fact that this theory is quite old, physicists have never opened up about their views and that’s the reason why it is considered a relatively new idea in modern science. Fuzzy dark matter has a lot of other names like Scalar-field dark matter, Ultra-light Axion, and Fluid dark matter. Having said that, all of these names point to the similar theory which indicates that dark matter is made from tiny, light-weight particles at extremely low temperatures. These particles are believed to coalesce into a weird type of matter called Bose-Einstein condensate. The particles separately have no effect on their surroundings, but the mass together has the ability to distort interstellar light.

MACHO

MACHO

MACHO stands for ‘Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Object’ and was one of the first proposed candidates for dark matter. These objects (neutron stars, brown dwarfs, and white dwarfs) are composed of ordinary matter but are invisible because they emit very little to no light at all. One way to observe them is by monitoring the brightness of distant stars. The process, called Gravitational Lensing, focuses the light from a distant source to make it visible by making use of the bending feature of light rays around a massive object. This technique can also be used to calculate the amount of matter (both dark and normal) in a galaxy.

Kaluza-Klein Particle

Kaluza-Klein Particle

Dimensions are the ways in which we can move whether it’s up and down, left and right, or forward and backward. This gives us the concept of three-dimensional space. In contrast to that, the Kaluza-Klein theory is built around the existence of an invisible “fifth dimension” curled up in space (time being the 4th one). This idea, a precursor to string theory, predicts the existence of a particle that could make up dark matter and will have the same mass as 550 to 650 protons. This kind of particle could interact both via electromagnetism and gravity. Despite these claims, it is not possible to find it simply by looking at the sky because it is in an unknown dimension.

If the researchers predicting this theory are correct, we will have a lot of fascinating consequences. For instance, the things that have charge under electromagnetism would be moving in this circular dimension. Similarly, the radius of this extra dimension would be related to the electric charge of these particles. As a result, a charged particle would move in one direction and an oppositely charged particle would move in the other. These particles are possibly the lightest candidates for dark matter.

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