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Dark matter could predate the Big Bang, study suggests

Dark matter, which scientists believe makes up about 80% of the universe, may be even older than the big bang.

It has long been believed that dark matter is a leftover substance from the astronomic event, but – according to a new study published in Physical Review Letters – that theory may in fact be wide of the mark.

Researchers have long been looking for the kind of dark matter left by the big bang, and the lack of success in finding any so far has some questioning its true origin.

Image: It has long been believed that dark matter is a leftover substance from the big bang

Study author Tommi Tenkanen, a postdoctoral fellow in physics and astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, in the United States, said: “If dark matter were truly a remnant of the big bang, then in many cases researchers should have seen a direct signal of dark matter in different particle physics experiments already.

“If dark matter consists of new particles that were born before the big bang, they affect the way galaxies are distributed in the sky in a unique way. This connection may be used to reveal their identity and make conclusions about the times before the big bang too.”

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Dark matter is known to play a crucial role in the formation of galaxies and galaxy clusters, and scientists know it exists because of its gravitational effects on the movement and distribution of visible matter in space.

Using a new, simple mathematical framework, the study led by Mr Tenkanen suggests dark matter was first produced during an era known as the cosmic inflation – when space was expanding very rapidly.

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The speedy growth of space is believed to lead to copious production of certain types of particles called scalars, of which only one has been discovered – the famous Higgs boson, which was confirmed to exist in 2012.

Whether or not Mr Tenkanen is correct in his findings, the study marks the first time a theorist has been able to produce calculations that support the idea of dark matter predating the big bang.

Image: The Euclid satellite will launch in 2022 to try and find out more about the origins of dark matter. Pic: ESA

He added: “We do not know what dark matter is, but if it has anything to do with any scalar particles, it may be older than the big bang.

“With the proposed mathematical scenario, we don’t have to assume new types of interactions between visible and dark matter beyond gravity, which we already know is there.”

Mr Tenkanen said more would be discovered about the origins of dark matter through a European Space Agency mission launching in 2022, which will send the so-called Euclid satellite into deep space.

The agency says the mission aims to gain a greater understanding of why the expansion of the universe is accelerating, and how it has evolved over the past 10 billion years.

Mr Tenkanen said: “It’s going to be very exciting to see what it will reveal about dark matter and if its findings can be used to peak into the times before the big bang.”

SOURCE : https://news.sky.com/story/dark-matter-could-predate-the-big-bang-study-suggests-11779892

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