Dark matter may be bigger than we thought

Kevin Wang, Staff Reporter

Case Western Reserve University researchers are hoping to unravel the mystery of dark matter. Physics Professor Glenn Starkman and recently graduated doctoral student David Jacobs theorize that dark matter, the hypothetical matter used to help explain gravity, is macroscopic and can be constructed using existing parts of the Standard Model, meaning that it can be explained by what we already know about physics.

The structure and characteristics of dark matter has been a mystery to physicists and an unsolved question in the field. Still, physicists estimate that the unseen dark matter comprises 27 percent of the universe, compared to just five percent for normal matter.

A current theory for the composition of dark matter is that it is composed of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). WIMPs could provide a possible explanation for dark matter, but these particles have not yet been found through detection experiments or through experiments with the Large Hadron Collider. The existence of WIMPs also goes against the Standard Model, meaning that their existence could not be explained by what we currently know about physics.

Starkman’s research brings an alternative possibility—that dark matter is composed of very massive particles, such a relatives of neutron stars or large nuclei. These molecules could be assembled out of particles in the Standard Model.

The research, which was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, also gives an outline for how to experimentally search for dark matter with these properties.

“This is an active area of research,” said Jacobs. He says that these macroscopic particles may have penetrated the rock on Earth’s surface, leaving a record of their existence for researchers to find.

“We may [also] be able to find other geological signatures, beyond the mica [a type of mineral] samples,” he added.