Dark Matter
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Basic Information

Over the years our scientists have done a lot of analysis of our universe. One thing they've noticed is that there's not as much visible matter in our galaxy as there "should" be on paper. The math of galaxy formation and our flat galactic plane all suggest a much more massive universe than we can see. So where is that mass?

Dark Matter is a catch-all term for mass that doesn't show up in our telescopes. There's many competing theories of what Dark Matter is, and why we can't see it. These explanations range from tiny subatomic particles to massive clusters of collapsed stars. In all likelihood, it's a mix of several types.

Dark Matter isn't so much a coherent category, it's more like an expression of things we don't yet understand. In that way discussion of "Dark Matter" is a bit like labeling a map with "Terra Incognita", "Parts Unknown", or "Here Be Dragons". The various types of Dark Matter are united only in that they are hypothesized to exist naturally, they are Invisible or at least very difficult to detect, and they have mass.

There's likely to be five times as much dark matter as normal matter in our universe. In fact, the universe may be composed of 74% Dark Energy, 22% Dark Matter, and just 4% conventional matter. On the other hand, Dark Matter might not even exist.

Dark Matter increases the gravitational effects holding galaxies together. In this regards, it's sort of the opposite of Dark Energy - which pushes galaxies away from each other and make the universe expand.

It appears Dark Matter is unevenly distributed. Some galaxy behave as if they have none, others behave as if they have a huge amount of it, often the math suggests it is concentrated in a halo at the edge of the galaxy.

possible Dark Matter subtypes:

Alternatives to the Dark Matter hypothesis:

See Also


1. Non-Fiction: Hyperspace by Michio Kaku

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