Are We Close to Finding Dark Matter?

Scientists say he search for the mysterious substance which makes up most of the Universe could soon be at an end. A massive computer simulation was used to show the evolution of a galaxy like the Milky Way, and analysts were able to “see” gamma-rays given off by dark matter. Dark matter is believed to account for 85 per cent of the Universe’s mass but has remained invisible to telescopes since scientists inferred its existence from its gravitational effects more than 75 years ago. If the computations are correct, the findings could help NASA’s Fermi Telescope to search for the dark matter and open a new chapter in our understanding of the Universe.

The consortium of scientists, called Virgo Consortium looked at dark matter halos – structures surrounding galaxies – which contain a trillion times the mass of the Sun. The simulations showed how the galaxy’s halo grew through a series of violent collisions and mergers between much smaller clumps of dark matter that emerged from the Big Bang.

The researchers found that gamma-rays produced when particles collided in areas of high dark matter density could be most easily detectable in regions of the Milky Way lying close to the Sun in the general direction of the galaxy’s centre.

They suggest the Fermi Telescope should search in this part of the galaxy where they predict that gamma-rays from dark matter should glow in “a smoothly varying and characteristic pattern”.

If Fermi does detect the predicted emission from the Milky Way’s smooth inner halo the Virgo team believes it might be able to see otherwise invisible clumps of dark matter lying very close to the Sun.

The Virgo research involved scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany, The Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University, UK, the University of Victoria in Canada, the University of Massachusetts, USA, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Professor Carlos Frenk, Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, at Durham University, said: “Solving the dark matter riddle will be one of the greatest scientific achievements of our time.

“The search for dark matter has dominated cosmology for many decades. It may soon come to an end.”

Sources: EurekAlert, Virgo Consortium

23 Replies to “Are We Close to Finding Dark Matter?”

  1. Mmmmm

    What I see is that they want to see dark matter’s clumps indirectly by means of detecting radiation coming from ordinary matter, packed in those clumps. This would constrain dark matter’s nature but not say what dark matter is.

    Beside that, they are probably assuming some properties of dark matter, properties still unknown.

  2. looked at dark matter halos – structures surrounding galaxies – which contain a trillion times the mass of the Sun

    My original thought was “geez. why didn’t they compare it to the mass of the galaxy? But after some thought, It makes me feel insignificant as a sentient being that the biggest unit that we know the absolute mass of for sure is only our tiny little sun.

  3. This is ridiculous.

    It is the result of a “Computer Simulation”?!.

    That is a program designed and run by men who believe in the idea of dark matter so naturally they programed in all the parameters that will in the end show dark matter in its results.

    Computer simulations only show what their authors want to see.

    Dark Matter and for that matter Dark Energy are postulations used to make theories work out the way the theorists want them to. When in fact there is some big error in the theories in the first place.

    Ray Bingham

  4. Do you really believe this?

    What is a good sign that your theory is wrong? If there exists some contradictions in it. When building simulations like these, we are in effect hunting for contradictions. Given our current understanding of the world, we put in a set of parameters that will form the basis of the simulation. When we run it, it behaves in a certain way. Now, if the way it behaves is totally unexpected, that’s cause for concern/excitement (depending on your point of view).

    The results of simulations can be used to make predictions about the real world, which can then be tested.

    This is very much following the scientific method. Only before, we’d run the simulations in our heads.

    True, Dark Matter and Dark Energy are only being considered because our theories would otherwise have some major flaws, but there’s nothing wrong about this. What’s important is that we are working on finding ways to determine if they truly exist.

    And how can you be so sure that our theories are wrong? Do you know something astrophysicists do not?

  5. I wonder why the idea of the existence of dark matter (or, for that matter, dark energy) gets some people so angry. Something for social psychologists to study.

  6. You know, let me be the first to say, when we find out what dark matter is, it will just turn out to be literally dark matter, perhaps floating globs of lead.

    Or it could be wormholes through spacetime

    But in the end we should gather some to study it. Dark matter is a theory which is based on other theories which in turn lead through a whole string of unstable theories (“virgin” theories, as apposed to hard tested trail theories like gravity, mass, relativity). Theory is important, but when they start to be based on unstable theories, any minor exception rule would cause a rapid cascade.

    And to ray – the simulations used here are trial and error, not input and output. They setup a set of rules and see how it plays in the end, if the end result matches the data observed in real life then that’s one possible theory. There could of course be other combination of rules which yield similar results, but each simulation on this scale takes time to complete, then input quantum computers which start if the end result and solve backwards for all the possible theories, etc.

  7. Hi. In the beginning of the artcile it reads: *Scientists say he search for the mysterious …*. Either thats THE or THEY… but definitely there more more than one scientists so it cannot be HE. 🙂

  8. This is ridiculous.

    It is the result of a “Computer Simulation”?!.

    That is a program designed and run by men who believe in the idea of dark matter so naturally they programed in all the parameters that will in the end show dark matter in its results.

    Computer simulations only show what their authors want to see.

    Dark Matter and for that matter Dark Energy are postulations used to make theories work out the way the theorists want them to. When in fact there is some big error in the theories in the first place.

    Ray Bingham

    You forget one simple thing – the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong in science is experiment and/or observation. Eric Blias and Flaming Pope have already commented on the fact that these simulations are run to see what may happen based on our current understanding, and to see if contradictions or impossibilities result from the simulations.

    You have to take that further though – these simulations, if they show no contradictions or impossibilities, will make predictions. If these predictions turn out to be untrue, or they do not occur in nature, then the simulation is wrong. If they are borne out, then the simulation and it’s underlying assumptions may be correct – they’ll then go on to test it again. That is the whole point of this process, and science in general – relating theory to observation. That is how science moves forward.

    I think Feynman summed it up best with two quotes, shown here –

    ‘“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong”

    and my favourite:

    “We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.”

  9. If so, good.But this covers only a small percentage of whole dark matter theory.I started to work on this in 2001 buy the name Dark Rays.I have an idea of using a biological (xxx) to detect dark matter/rays.
    Based on the theory of dark rays I can explain a lot of mysteries of universe.

  10. For this simulation, I believe the computers at VC are correctly interpreting the physics of the time, however I believe what makes their simulations a bit different than others is the actual “ingredients” used to create “cake”.

    In order for this simulation to occur the way it did, the initial conditions would have to be set up to match the beliefs of “Cold Dark Matter” early in the creation of the universe.
    This is inivisble stuff interacting via gravity and not electromagnetic radiation. Those who believe argue CDM would not have been evenly spread through the early universe by radiation, but instead would have been pulled together into clumps by gravity. Then galaxies begin formation according to a “hierarchical theory”.

    So, if you believe in this process, then the simulation should be something you can believe in.

    However, if you do not, then you should of course be skeptical. Most people will probably be just about as split on this as astro physicists are.

    If you have remembered how I have explained galaxy formation on this site in the past, you realize I do not believe in this method of galaxy formation. Mike Disney from Cardiff has put out the latest information into the theory I subscribe to, and the simple version can be seen at:

    This theory in the longer form, explains a lot more about current galaxis that the CDM theory does. For instance how bodies on the outer area of a galaxy maintain their speed/direction without much/if any gravitational influence from the central black hole.

    ..and with this I leave you to decide!

  11. “Then galaxies begin formation according to a “hierarchical theory”.”

    There is a big pile of observational evidence that is inconsistent with hierarchial theory. In order to provide a reasonable proof of this iteration of dark matter, these other evidentuary trails must be accounted for in the simulations.

  12. Is it possible to have Dark Antimatter to the Dark matter? Then if we find that and the universe is made up mostly of this stuff, think of the propulsion possibilities?

  13. Sorry, this is just too funny to pass up. So, you’ve again used your almighty computer “simulations” to make discoveries. What a freakin’ joke! How about writing a simulation to determine why you brainiacs are really such idiots!

  14. Astrofreak,

    A couple of posts above rationally explain the role of computer simulation in the scientific process.

    Your ad hominem makes you look ridiculous.

  15. Well, of course, the computer simulation will run with the parameters with which it is programed. The computer result can then be verified or not by actual observation and depending on these observations theories may need to be scrapped or modified accordingly. What is the problem here? Sounds like the scientific method is being employed to me. Wasn’t the same process used to verify Einstein’s theory that light could bend?

  16. Dark Matter is an invention, and only another one, amount hundred that the Conventional Wisdom has.
    Dark Matter is only the Graviton, the particle that provokes what we call gravitation.
    See the Web Site
    Computer simulation? Beautiful tale for children.

    Lucy Haye,
    [email protected]

  17. Holy cow! Don’t keep the truth to yourselves, share it with the rest of the world, oh mighty guardians of the truth!

  18. I think, any simulation someone sets up is based on the idea that the universe behaves just as this someone understands it to behave. Thus, a simulation can only provide the results that this someone´s understanding can allow the simulation to create.

    If you don´t know whether your understanding is correct, the results of the simulation cannot prove anything but good programming skills and access to appropriate equipment.



  19. As I’ve stated before, the excesses of Climate Science have spilled over into other disciplines.

    Now any branch of science can make a ‘discovery’ using a computer model and be taken seriously…

    I’m not saying that venomously, but in a flat, factual tone. Much of emotion you see in the ‘dark stuff’ debates is similar to the global warming debates and is disgust at ideas that aren’t even good theories being taken as laws.

  20. It is always so impressive that people get so worked up or find “hilarious” things that are so far beyond their simple comprehension. If you don’t know what computer simulations are…if you don’t know how they aid the scientific process, then have the humility to shut up and use your reading abilities to absorb information and grow as a member of the only sentient beings that we know of. When children don’t understand something, they ask questions. When adults don’t understand something, they make ever the more noise as if by bringing attention to themselves, the issue will quietly beat a hasty exit.

Comments are closed.