A new proposal which endows dark matter particles with a rare form of electromagnetism, it is a simple theory that may explain mysterious dark matter in our universe. Image © Image © NASA, ESA, CFHT, CXO, M.J. Jee (University of California, Davis), and A. Mahdavi (San Francisco State University)
Above: distribution of dark matter, galaxies, and hot gas in the core of the merging galaxy cluster Abell 520, formed from a violent collision of massive galaxy clusters.
The new theory has been strengthened by a detailed analysis by Professor Robert Scherrer and post-doctoral fellow Chiu Man Ho, two theoretical physicists at Vanderbilt University.
“Most of the matter in the universe may be made out of particles that have an unusual, donut-shaped electromagnetic field called an anapole.”
An article about the research was published online last month by the journal Physics Letters B.
“There are a great many different theories about the nature of dark matter. What I like about this theory is its simplicity, uniqueness and the fact that it can be tested,”
Robert Scherrer, left, and Chiu Man Ho. (Joe Howell / Vanderbilt)
In the article, titled “Anapole Dark Matter,” the physicists propose that dark matter, an invisible form of matter that makes up 85 percent of the all the matter in the universe, may be made out of a type of basic particle called the Majorana fermion. The particle’s existence was predicted in the 1930’s but has stubbornly resisted detection.
A number of physicists have suggested that dark matter is made from Majorana particles, but Scherrer and Ho have performed detailed calculations that demonstrate that these particles are uniquely suited to possess a rare, donut-shaped type of electromagnetic field called an anapole. This field gives them properties that differ from those of particles that possess the more common fields possessing two poles (north and south, positive and negative) and explains why they are so difficult to detect.