12
$\begingroup$

This question already has an answer here:

There are many documentaries, forums, blogs and more dedicated to Dark Matter. I have been frantically searching for an answer to my question however none of my sources have clarity to the matter of hand. I would really love a clear explanation to: What exactly is Dark Matter? Please help me to have a clear understanding.

$\endgroup$

marked as duplicate by Raskolnikov, John Rennie, JamalS, Kyle Kanos, Brandon Enright Jan 28 '15 at 16:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

23
$\begingroup$

We don't know.

Though there are several ideas what dark matter could be, e.g. the humorously abbreviated WIMPs, all we know about dark matter is that is it massive (by light deflection, etc., etc.) and that it does not interact electromagnetically, and probably also not with the strong force. Other than that, there is no sufficently tested theory of dark matter to pronounce with confidence what it is. We only know what it is not (i.e. not EM charged, not strongly charged, and there are probably a few other constraints from observation).

Also, though highly unlikely, it could be that it is our theory of gravity, i.e. GR, that needs to be modified. In that case, it could be that there is no additional unknown matter, just different gravitational interactions from what we currently think.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ On the modified gravity, $f(R)$ gravity is one of the most common I see in the literature. TeVeS is also popular. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 28 '15 at 15:52
3
$\begingroup$

"Dark matter" is just a name invented for the gravitational effects we see around galaxies and galaxy clusters. For example, the Milky Way has a "dark matter halo" that effects the orbit of the particles around the center of the galaxy. We can plot the orbits on a rotation curve. See this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_rotation_curve.

To agree with ACuriousMind, we know very little about this substance! The only way we know it even exists (which we are not completely sure of) is by its gravitational effects. Dark matter does not interact with light, since it does not reflect, absorb, or scatter light.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Dark matter is introduced into cosmology because Einstein's GRT does not correctly give the rotational speeds observed in galaxies, except to suppose that additional matter otherwise not observable would correct this.

Other cosmologies such as GEM (heaviside et al), give a correct explanation of this and therefore do not need a corrective fix.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If you want to go with this answer please could you not just put forward how an alternative theory explains a single piece of observational evidence, but how it addresses the myriad pieces of evidence that seem to point to non-baryonic dark matter -e.g. early nucleosynthesis, cluster velocity dispersions, growth of structure, baryon acoustic oscillations... $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Feb 21 '15 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ Dark matter is used because GRT only has attractive gravity, whereas GEM has a repulsive force as well, and this explains a lot of what you're saying, SRT is common to both theories, but in GEM, it is a consequence of space. $\endgroup$ – wendy.krieger Feb 21 '15 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ OK, that's of interest. However it needs to explain all of what I'm saying at least as well as dark matter if it is to be regarded as a better model. Your answer is still only partially correct because dark matter is introduced not just because it is a fix to solve the problem of galaxy rotation curves. That is misleadingly simplistic. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Feb 22 '15 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ From what i read of it, it's non-bayonic because we can not detect it in the milky way. But GEM gives the right rotation field for galaxies, and associates the mercury anomaly with the proper motion of the sun at 250 kms. Likewise, the dirac clouds, the beams radiating from pulsars, the butterfly nebulus, the shape of galaxies, and the origion of the solar system from a sunspot all have a simple explanation in GEM. $\endgroup$ – wendy.krieger Feb 22 '15 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ "The origin of the solar system from a sunspot"... Enough said. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Feb 22 '15 at 9:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.