Dark Matter: Hype or Reality?

A New York Times article, published on December 1st, reports about the gathering of renowned astronomers that took place on Monday in a small Italian town Ferrara. A picture of the universe as it looked like 380,000 years after its birth, taken by the European Space Agency’s satellite, stirred up many questions about the dark matter that was one of the hottest topics at this congregation, named Planck 2014. The picture in question sheds a new light to the state of the universe and the radiation left over from its creation, the mighty event known as the Big Bang. The interpretation of this particular picture might forever change the way we understand and study dark matter. The official data will be published in the December 22 edition of Astronomy & Astrophysics journal.

Einstein’s theory of gravity might be in conflict with our universe’s accelerating expansion, and, apart from the antimatter, and some forces we yet don’t know of, dark energy and dark matter are offering the only plausible explanation for this phenomenon so far. Gravitational force itself is not sufficient to keep galaxies together; neither would it allow such rates of the expansion of the universe. We still have no conclusive evidence about what exactly dark matter and dark energy are, but it is estimated that they account for most of the stuff our universe is composed of. Well, at least dark energy does. However, we have to bear in mind that matter and energy are two forms of the same thing. When it comes to the dark matter, opinions differ. Some state that the dark matter, for its part, is rather scarce. In contrast, some estimates state that there is up to six times more of the dark matter in the universe than the normal/visible matter. If we are to believe the latter data and calculations, the dark matter might be swallowing our universe.


According to NASA’s official website, the most common explanation of the dark matter is that it is made up of particles such as axions or Weakly interacting Massive Particles (WIMPS). The Guardian reported last month that the European Space Agency’s observatory, XMM Newton, recorded some anomalies in Earth’s magnetic field that could be attributed to axions, potential components of the dark matter, which are producing x-rays when in contact with Earth’s magnetic field. Similar findings came from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. If these turn out to be dark matter particles, according to the researchers at Leicester University, they are extremely light, having a total mass of about a hundred billionth of an electron.

Recently, two researchers, Andrei Derevianko, and Maksim Pospelov, have proposed a new theory explaining dark matter in which they state dark matter might be a sort of tear in the very fabric of the space- time, and that our GPS satellites and atomic clocks might detect it, since whenever clumps of dark matter pass by, atomic clocks will go out of synchronization, thus behaving as dark matter detectors.

The only comment to the whole this situation about the dark matter could be the famous Socratic paradox, „I know that I know nothing.”