Physicists seeking to solve the mystery of dark matter are planning to accelerate particles in the CERN collider to record energy levels next week. Over the next 20 months, before the planned shut down in 2012 they hope to find the elusive WIMP, the most likely candidate for dark matter.
X-ray satellite imagery revealed a massive hot gas cloud that is much too hot to stay together unless there is a large mass of dark matter providing the gravitational force to hold it together .
Moreover, galaxies such as Andromeda rotate much too fast unless most of their matter is dark.
Only 4% of the calculated mass of the universe is normal matter. Dark matter is calculated to be 26% of the universe's mass. CERN physicists hope to find the particle that makes up dark matter in the next 20 months.
The CERN collider will operate at half power for the next 20 months, not full power, due to safety concerns about cooling the enormous magnets.
The energy levels may not be high enough to find the Higgs boson, "the God particle", but energy levels will be high enough to create particles that formed in the first fractions of a second of the birth of the universe. Physicists hope to find Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPS), the most likely candidate to solve the mystery of dark matter.
Dark Matter Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered a ghostly ring of dark matter that formed long ago during a titanic collision between two massive galaxy clusters. The ring's discovery is among the strongest evidence yet that dark matter exists.
In 2006, looking at the collision of two galaxies, astronomers found strong direct evidence of the existence of dark matter. Dark matter, revealed by gravitational lensing (blue), passed through the collision unaffected while normal matter (red) was slowed by drag.
This composite image shows the galaxy cluster 1E 0657-56, also known as the "bullet cluster." This cluster was formed after the collision of two large clusters of galaxies, the most energetic event known in the universe since the Big Bang.
Hot gas detected by Chandra in X-rays is seen as two pink clumps in the image and contains most of the "normal," or baryonic, matter in the two clusters. The bullet-shaped clump on the right is the hot gas from one cluster, which passed through the hot gas from the other larger cluster during the collision. An optical image from Magellan and the Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxies in orange and white. The blue areas in this image show where astronomers find most of the mass in the clusters. The concentration of mass is determined using the effect of so-called gravitational lensing, where light from the distant objects is distorted by intervening matter. Most of the matter in the clusters (blue) is clearly separate from the normal matter (pink), giving direct evidence that nearly all of the matter in the clusters is dark.
The hot gas in each cluster was slowed by a drag force, similar to air resistance, during the collision. In contrast, the dark matter was not slowed by the impact because it does not interact directly with itself or the gas except through gravity. Therefore, during the collision the dark matter clumps from the two clusters moved ahead of the hot gas, producing the separation of the dark and normal matter seen in the image. If hot gas was the most massive component in the clusters, as proposed by alternative theories of gravity, such an effect would not be seen. Instead, this result shows that dark matter is required.
The bullet cluster image shows that dark matter interacts very weakly with normal matter.
This new best of science video explores the mystery of dark matter and explains gravitational lensing.
Science's dairy on the possible detection of dark matter by an underground partlcle detector. He's a researcher who has published many articles on particle physics and dark matter.