A team of scientists has come up with a new theory that may identify why dark matter has evaded direct detection in Earth-based experiments.
Physicists known as the Lattice Strong Dynamics Collaboration, led by a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory team, have combined theoretical and computational physics techniques and used the Laboratory’s massively parallel 2-petaflop Vulcan supercomputer to devise a new model of dark matter.
It identifies it as naturally “stealthy” (i.e. like its namesake aircraft, difficult to detect) today, but would have been easy to see via interactions with ordinary matter in the extremely high-temperature plasma conditions that pervaded the early universe.
These interactions in the early universe are important because ordinary and dark matter abundances today are strikingly similar in size, suggesting this occurred because of a balancing act performed between the two before the universe cooled, said one of the authors Pavlos Vranas.
Dark matter makes up 83 percent of all matter in the universe and does not interact directly with electromagnetic or strong and weak nuclear forces. Light does not bounce off of it, and ordinary matter goes through it with only the feeblest of interactions. Essentially invisible, it has been termed dark matter, yet its interactions with gravity produce striking effects on the movement of galaxies and galactic clusters, leaving little doubt of its existence.
The paper appears in an upcoming edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.