Dark Matter Discovery: New Research Reveals It 'Doesn’t Interact With the Universe Around It'
When it comes to dark matter, every new discovery seems to take us two steps forward and one step back.
In 2015, it seemed like astronomers and physicists had made a huge breakthrough by discovering a galaxy that had separated from its nearby dark matter, an event that unprecedented in our understanding of the universe. But, unfortunately, that "breakthrough" may prove to be a dud—much like another supposed breakthrough involving dark matter and x-rays.
Scientists studied the galaxy in question three years ago, situated within Abell 3827 galaxy cluster, using the Hubble Telescope. According to their observations, the galaxies' dark matter was not present, which was surprising: dark matter is thought to be one of the main forces holding galaxies together, so its absence seemed to mark a major shift in understanding its nature and effects on normal matter.
Here's the thing about dark matter: it's estimated to make up roughly 27 percent of the universe (normal matter makes up 5 percent, and dark energy makes up the rest), but has never been directly observed. Instead, dark matter's existence has only been indirectly observed through its interactions with gravity, which make it incredibly difficult to study and understand.
According to Dr. Richard Massey, a researcher at Durham University's Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy:
"The search for dark matter is frustrating, but that's science. Meanwhile, the hunt goes on for dark matter to reveal its nature. So long as dark matter doesn't interact with the universe around it, we are having a hard time working out what it is."
According to new research by Massey and his team, based on fresh observations from the Atacama Large Millimetre Array, all of that missing dark matter was there from the beginning—it just took a higher resolution to spot its effects. It's disappointing, but it's better than persisting with a false hypothesis for another few decades—like the idea of the 'aether.'