Much like its fellow component dark energy, dark matter has remained an elusive subject, hiding in plain sight in the vastness of the universe. Dark matter is equally hard to pin down, has only been observed by its indirect effects on how regular matter behaves.
Most scientists hold the opinion that
Dark matter is composed of weakly interacting massive particles or WIMPs.
Direct-detection experiments are therefore looking for evidence of the direct influence of dark matter on their detectors. No such evidence has yet been observed.
- Roughly 80 percent of the mass of the universe is made up dark matter.
- It does not emit light or energy and cannot be directly observed.
- And yet, studies of galaxies and the motions of stars provide strong possibilities of its existence.
- In a particularly Sherlockian manner, evidence of dark matter’s existence comes precisely from its all too apparent invisibility.
- The universe is made up of baryonic matter, composed of the familiar components – protons, electrons and neutrons.
- Dark matter, however, may be baryonic or non-baryonic. But in order to prevent the elements of the universe from falling apart, dark matter must make up 80 percent of its matter.
This is where the hitch comes in, since, by all known counts, the best estimates of the
Total mass of everything in the known universe, that we can see with our telescopes, is roughly 0.01 percent.
The other 99 percent of the stuff of the Universe, is Dark Matter.
Even if we do not know what dark matter is, we do know that it exists simply by dint of the many experiments being conducted to either discover this matter or to observe its effects.
- Einstein demonstrated
- how light is distorted by large objects in the universe, allowing them to be used as lenses to ‘see’ further into the field of the universe.
- By studying this light distortion, together with the changing position of stars and galaxies due to expansion, scientists have been able to plot a dark matter map in the universe.
All of these methods prove that there is an as yet unseen matter in the universe that is holding everything together.
This matter may not be in the form of visible matter like stars and gas clouds or even be composed of black holes, and it is unclear whether normal matter might be a part of dark matter. However, what is clear, is that with several ongoing experiments on discovering and identifying dark matter, it is a matter of time and technology that non-results are ruled out so that definite possibilities are pulled forward for light-bending data analysis.