Astrophysicists have known for the last 80 years that most of the universe consists of an unknown, dark matter.
The solution to the mystery may now be just around the corner. “We are looking for a new member of our particle zoo in order to explain dark matter. We know that it is a very exotic beast. And we have found a plausible explanation,” reports Are Raklev, an associate professor in particle physics in the University of Oslo‘s Department of Physics –the university’s leading theorist in astroparticle physics. Raklev has launched a model that explains what dark matter may consist of and how one can discover the invisible particles experimentally.
Even though dark matter is invisible, astrophysicists know it exists. Without this dark matter it is impossible to explain how the visible things in the universe hang together. An 80 year fight The world famous, Swiss physicist Fritz Zwicky was speculating on what dark matter might be as early as the 1930s.
Astrophysicists have calculated that 80 per cent of all the mass in the universe is dark, invisible matter. Thanks to gravity this dark matter clumps together as ordinary matter. Dark matter can explain why stars move like they do. Dark matter may also explain the rotation speed of galaxies.
“Even though we can calculate how much dark matter there is in the universe, we still know little about what dark matter is. The particles in dark matter must either have a lot of mass, or there must be very many of them. Neutrinos meet all the requirements of dark matter.
But there is one big difficulty. They have far too little mass.” Raklev is now trying to prove that dark matter consists of gravitinos. This is a particle that has been unfairly treated for years. Gravitinos are the supersymmetric partner of gravitons.
Or, to be even more precise: “The gravitino is the hypothetical, supersymmetric partner of the hypothetical particle graviton, so it is also impossible to predict a more hypothetical particle than this,” laughs Raklev (below), who writes on his web pages that he is looking for dark material both under his sofa and other places.
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