Astronomers have been attempting to unearth the esoteric properties of dark matter for decades. Dark matter is one of the many mysteries of the Universe due to the fact that it does not emit, reflect, or absorb light; therefore, it cannot been seen. However, according to a new study, astronomers may be closer to answering the question of the inexplicable material. They believe there is a dark force that powers the existence of dark matter.
By using a mass of highly advanced ground-based telescopes, a team of researchers from Durham University have now discovered evidence that a dark force and dark boson force carrying particles may exist. While studying four colliding galaxies, they observed the Abell 3827 cluster in a collision with a nearby galaxy within. To find the precise position of the dark matter, the astronomers used a phenomenon of what is called gravitational lensing.
Gravitational lensing is a natural occurrence in the cosmos which was first theorized by Einstein in the infamous theory of general relativity. The lensing occurs when a section of dark matter causes the light in an area of space-time to bend around galaxies. This scatters and deforms the light coming from behind the galaxy. Astronomers also use this method to find exoplanets in other areas of the cosmos.
Richard Massey, the chief author of the study, stated he did not think until now that the entity of dark matter played a role in affecting other dark entities, ” except for its gravitational pull.” Though, if dark matter was being slowed by a dark force during the collision of two galaxies, it could possibly be the first observation of a dark force that lies within the Universe. They found that one of the galaxies in Abell 3827 has an unusually large quantity of dark matter, which could be the reason why space around it warps so much.
According to their observations, the dark matter in one of the galaxies in the cluster had disbanded from its group of stars by around 5,000 light-years. They think that the dark matter in that galaxy apparently intertwined with dark matter from a second galaxy, allowing it to reduce its speed and make a space in between it and the regular distribution of matter. This would mean the existence of a dark force that powers dark matter through its force carrying properties.
The phenomenon is just like how two particles of light, or photons, pass by each other. For example, when two particles release a photon, it is drawn in by the other. This causes a recoil on each particle. The cause of a recoil is the opposite of what gravity would cause in the Standard Model of properties. Since the theoretical dark force would be the counter force to the four fundamental forces that bring matter together, the dark force would push matter and energy away from each other.
One theory from the researchers team suggests that dark matter cannot be affected by the electromagnetic force, one of the most powerful of the four fundamental forces in the Universe. A dark force stemming from a dark photon may be what caused the galactic repulsion seen in the Abell 3827 cluster.
Astronomers now believe that the dark force is what keeps galaxies from breaking apart as they collide with each other. Their observations suggest that dark matter may interact with others forces than just gravity. For now, the Abell 3827 cluster is the only area in which they have seen the possible evidence for a dark force interacting with dark matter. By using further tests with the Large Hadron Collider, scientists could find the force carrying particles of dark matter which could possibly be the new theorized dark force.
By Alex Lemieux
Photo by European Southern Observatory – Flickr License