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Dark Matter

By Logan Wright

The dark, ring-like structure in this composite image produced by the Hubble telescope is thought to be made by dark matter.
All objects attract other objects and the more mass an object has, the stronger its attractive force. Plain enough. However, our current understanding of gravity does not explain the distribution of visible objects in the universe.

To solve this problem, modern physicists have invented the hypothetical substance dark matter. Dark matter, whose presence can only be detected based on the gravitational effects it has on larger objects. It is said to make up most of the Universe’s mass.

Most scientists postulate that dark matter is made up of the theoretical MACHO and WIMP particles. MACHOs (Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Objects) are thought to be made up of normal matter, and are the main component in black holes and brown dwarf stars, both of which cannot be seen but can be detected via their gravitational effects.

WIMPs are composed of particles smaller than atoms and that are made up of a unique type of matter known as non-baryonic matter. According to physicists, WIMPS pass through normal, baryonic matter undetected and are probably moving through you right now.  Despite dark matter’s supposed abundance, astronomers and particle physicists have yet to pin down either a MACHO or a WIMP.

More information: How does dark matter work?

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20 Jul 2011
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