WIMPS vs. Axions: What is dark matter? – Universe Today

Dark matter guidelines each galaxy. But what precisely is it? Astronomers imagine it to be some sort of new, unique particle. You could have heard some phrases tossed round, like WIMPs or axions. Let’s discover what these phrases really imply.

First off, there’s a number of issues that we learn about dark matter. Astronomers imagine that dark matter is some sort of particle, beforehand unknown to physics. Whatever it is, it makes up about 80% of the mass of the universe. It barely interacts with gentle, if in any respect. It barely interacts with regular matter, if in any respect. It barely interacts with itself, if in any respect. We additionally know that it’s “cold”, which implies that the person particles don’t have very excessive velocities.
It mainly simply sits there and gravitates. But that gravity is important: it retains galaxies glued collectively and gives the scaffolding for your complete massive-scale construction of the universe.
One of the earliest candidates for the dark matter particle are the WIMPs, for weakly-interacting huge particles. It’s not a lot a reputation as a catch-all class. In this case, “weakly-interacting” means “interacts via the weak nuclear force” (though that interplay is additionally actually weak). WIMPs could be a brand new sort of particle that solely speak to regular matter through the weak drive, which might clarify why we solely hardly ever see it. In this situation, WIMPs flood the universe – and would possibly even be touring by way of you proper now, although you’d by no means know besides for his or her gravity.

The axion, alternatively, is one other hypothetical particle (or actually, class of potential particles) that was motivated by theoretical explorations of assorted symmetry legal guidelines within the universe. It simply so turned out that this hypothetical particle, if it existed in adequate quantity, would function precisely like we all know the dark matter ought to.
Beyond WIMPs and axions, theoretical physicists and cosmologists have provide you with all types of extra sophisticated prospects. Maybe the dark matter interacts with itself to some extent. Maybe there are a number of species of dark matter particles. Maybe new forces of physics are concerned. Maybe axions can clump collectively in unusual methods. Maybe this, perhaps that.
Yes, dark matter is an enormous thriller. We know that one thing funky is occurring with the universe, however we’re not precisely positive what. But we do know that cracking the dark matter thriller will illuminate an entire new universe of physics.
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