Dark Matter 'Hairs' May Surround Earth and Other Planets
The solar system may be a lot hairier than we thought. Scientists have found that there may be long filaments, or "hairs," of dark matter around Earth and our solar system.
Dark matter is an invisible, mysterious substance that makes up about 27 percent of all matter and energy in the universe. Regular matter, which makes up everything else, can easily been seen; however, regular matter only makes up about 5 percent of the universe. The rest is dark energy, which is a strange phenomenon associated with the acceleration of the expanding universe.
Neither dark matter nor dark energy has even been directly detected, though many experiments are trying to unlock the mysteries of dark matter, whether from deep underground or in space. Based on many observations of its gravitational pull in action, scientists are certain that dark matter exists.
The leading theory is that dark matter is "cold." This means that it doesn't move much. It's also "dark" in that it doesn't produce or interact with light. According to simulations done during the last decade, dark matter forms "fine-grained streams" of particles that move at the same velocity and orbit galaxies such as ours.
In this latest study, the researchers used computer simulations to see what happens when streams of dark matter approach Earth. The researchers found that when dark matter goes through a planet, the stream particles focus into an ultra-dense filament, or hair, of dark matter. In fact, there should be many such hairs sprouting from Earth.
"If we could pinpoint the location of the root of these hairs, we could potentially send a probe there and get a bonanza of data about dark matter," said Gary Prezeau, one of the researchers, in a news release.
The findings reveal that if researchers can find the root of these hairs, it may be possible to detect dark matter a bit more easily. With that said, further study is needed in order to better understand these hairs.
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