I've been looking for questions about dark matter, and I've read some very interesting answers. However, I desire too look into it deeply.

This is not actually a question. I'm asking the community to recommend interesting references to understanding dark matter and dark energy.

I accept all sort of references: notes, books, scientific papers etc.

Let us assume some background on classical physics, thermodynamics and basics about quantum theory.

  • $\begingroup$ You can follow the book "Particle and Astroparticle Physics by Utpal Sarkar,Taylor & Francis Group, LLC Pg-461". $\endgroup$
    – Curious
    Sep 28, 2012 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ Someone flagged this as a list-question, which should be closed. Since it belongs to books, I kept it open for now. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Dec 23, 2012 at 22:29

5 Answers 5


My area of research is (related to) large scale structure and substructure of dark matter. Not sure if you're interested more in the question of "what is dark matter" (from more of a particle physics point of view) or "what do we know about how dark matter is distributed and its gravitational interactions" (a more astronomy point of view). This answer leans more toward the second one. I won't even touch dark energy, I'm sure someone else can do better than I.

Sadly I don't know a great textbook on dark matter, or even with a big section on the topic. This is probably because dark matter/energy are not solved problems, so they're discussed more in periodicals than in texts. Yes there are textbooks, I just haven't read one that I've found fantastic.

Here's my pick of some papers on dark matter. Some are classics, some are recent, all are highly cited. Yes, they're all extremely technical. At an introductory level I don't suggest reading them all front to back and trying to understand everything; have a skim, try and understand the main results, read again in more detail if you find it interesting. Ask more specific questions as you come across them.

If you find yourself stuck behind a paywall trying to use any of the links on the pages linked below, use the arXiv link instead.

THE must see observational dark matter paper (and even at only a couple of pages long, it packs a punch). The bullet cluster is considered the "smoking gun" of dark matter existence, and pictures of it have adorned the introductory slides of dark matter talks for years. People still debate alternate explanations of the observation, but mostly the consensus is that this proves DM.

Before the bullet cluster, spiral galaxy rotation curves were some of the strongest evidence for DM. Reading the Wikipedia article is a decent primer for the paper.

Another observation that backs up the DM model is the "Lyman-$\alpha$ forest". The absorption of distant quasar emission by hydrogen clouds at many redshifts gives a "forest" of absorption lines which can be used to map the distribution of matter between us and the quasar. This can be checked against DM models, and seems to give generally good agreement.

The classic paper on the internal structure of dark matter clumps or "haloes" describes the NFW (Navarro-Frenk-White) density profile (equation 3). It turns out this result isn't quite exact and needs some corrections, and there's a long debate about whether the centres of haloes are "cusps" or "cores", but in the grand scheme of things the results of NFW96 are still widely used.

Simulations of DM can also be great fun. My two picks are Millenium and Bolshoi (these have some cousins; Millenium has Millenium-XXL, Millenium-II, MiniMillenium, Aquarius, and Bolshoi has BigBolshoi/Multidark and ViaLactea; essentially same people, same codes, different resolution/volume/focus). People have done many things with the results of these simulations, but the first result is just the organization, evolution and properties of the DM density field. Plus there are some very nice pictures and movies and more pictures and movies of the outputs.

The particle nature of DM is not my area of expertise, but this is the best-known recent-ish review I could find. 8 years old mind you, so there's been lots of activity in this field since. I'll leave it to someone else to point out the best references on the latest results.

Ok I lied, this last paper is not particularly well known. I just happen to work down the hall from one of the authors so I've heard lots about it, and the others are well known/respected so I think it carries some weight. They make some predictions about the $\gamma$-ray signal they would expect for a particular model of self-interacting dark matter (the maps on p. 12 / journal p. 604 are pretty cool). Still an area of ongoing research, I just think it's interesting so I threw it in here.

Hope you found some of those interesting/enjoyable. If you have any questions, just ask (comment or new question as appropriate).

  • $\begingroup$ Huh realized just now that this question is a couple of years old. Oh well, I think I added some alternatives to the existing answers anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Oman
    Jul 16, 2013 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ any new updates on dark matter? It has been a couple of years... ;) $\endgroup$
    – Cheng
    Oct 15, 2022 at 8:02

I'll give links to the three lectures by Kolb given at CERN:

  1. Dark Matter
  2. Dark Matter/Dark Energy
  3. Inflation

Good introductory lectures. Also quite entertaining.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm getting 503 Service Unavailable No server is available to handle this request. when I click on the links. $\endgroup$ Dec 1, 2019 at 9:16

found in the net:

Dark Energy : Theory and Observations, 491 pages by Luca Amendola and Shinji Tsujikawa

Dark Sky, Dark matter, 216 pages by J M Overduin ans P P Wesson

Does Dark Energy really exist ?, 9 pages by Thimoty Clifton and Pedro G Ferreira (... explanation: that our galaxy lies at the center of a giant cosmic void...)

No DE, an artifact of our measuring (a Chimera) : A relativistic time variation of matter/space fits both local and cosmic data, 14 pages by Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira and Rodrigo de Abreu

Good Luck

  • $\begingroup$ I have a bachelor's in mathematics but I'm really interested in this topic. Do you have any advise concerning a strategy to understand the topic? What do I have to study first? $\endgroup$
    – deps_stats
    Feb 28, 2011 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ coded here: outrafisica.blogs.sapo.pt/2008/12 , read the 14 pages, enjoy the nice story of the universe from 'other' perspective outrafisica.blogs.sapo.pt (google reader and translator) from first to last. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2011 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Off course to see it from other side (No DE) we first need other model as I pointed (14 pages never discussed). Then we need to know how to say no to the 491 pages. This step is longer to accomplish. It is need to know a bit about nuclear physics and to know what the measures mean. Understand how atoms can vary in a self-similar universe and how this influence the outcome. The Cosmological Constant: when Einstein wrote GR everyone presumed that the Univ was infinite in age and, beeing so, light had time to go attractive in one way and repulsive in the 'returns' in a closed univ. $\endgroup$ Mar 1, 2011 at 0:18

The Wikipedia article on dark matter is an okay overview of the reasons astronomers believe that dark matter exists. This isn't my field, but I found most of it understandable. Some of it was a bit too terse and jargon-filled. One paper Wikipedia links to is a review on the arXiv. You may also try searching the arXiv for dark matter reviews, and try to track down anything they reference. It appears that astro-ph is the place to go for dark matter papers, but a simple search gave me a huge number of references with no obvious way to sort through them.

EDIT: This is such a basic thing for astronomy and cosmology that I would expect intro textbooks to at least give enough information to help you find more. But I'm so far afield of this that I don't even know what the standard textbooks are.

                        what is dark matter ???

We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the Universe's expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It turns out that roughly 68% of the Universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest - everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter - adds up to less than 5% of the Universe. Come to think of it, maybe it shouldn't be called "normal" matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the Universe.

                                                       - says NASA

This diagram reveals changes in the rate of expansion since the universe's birth 15 billion years ago. The more shallow the curve, the faster the rate of expansion. The curve changes noticeably about 7.5 billion years ago, when objects in the universe began flying apart as a faster rate. Astronomers theorize that the faster expansion rate is due to a mysterious, dark force that is pulling galaxies apart.

Dark matter is invisible. Based on the effect of gravitational lensing, a ring of dark matter has been inferred in this image of a galaxy cluster (CL0024+17) and has been represented in blue.

enter image description here

                     Observational evidence

Much of the evidence comes from the motions of galaxies. Many of these appear to be fairly uniform, so by the virial theorem, the total kinetic energy should be half the galaxies' total gravitational binding energy. Observationally, the total kinetic energy is much greater. In particular, assuming the gravitational mass is due to only visible matter, stars far from the center of galaxies have much higher velocities than predicted by the virial theorem. Galactic rotation curves, which illustrate the velocity of rotation versus the distance from the galactic center, show the "excess" velocity. Dark matter is the most straightforward way of accounting for this discrepancy.

                                                 -says WIKIPEDIA

                    what is its composition???

Most scientists think that dark matter is composed of non-baryonic matter. The lead candidate, WIMPS (weakly interacting massive particles), have ten to a hundred times the mass of a proton, but their weak interactions with "normal" matter make them difficult to detect. Neutralinos, massive hypothetical particles heavier and slower than neutrinos, are the foremost candidate, though they have yet to be spotted. The smaller neutral axion and the uncharched photinos are also potential placeholders for dark matter.

                                   - credit Nola Taylor Redd,Space.com

                  Dark matter versus dark energy

Although dark matter makes up most of the matter of the universe, it only makes up about a quarter of the composition. The universe is dominated by dark energy.

After the Big Bang, the universe began expanding outward. Scientists once thought that it would eventually run out of the energy, slowing down as gravity pulled the objects inside it together. But studies of distant supernovae revealed that the universe today is expanding faster than it was in the past, not slower, indicating that the expansion is accelerating. This would only be possible if the universe contained enough energy to overcome gravity — dark energy. - space.com

![ According to this timeline from NASA, the expansion of the universe is accelerating. IMAGE COURTESY NASA]4

           So, Will the Universe Recollapse Then?

Despite the fact that up to 90 percent of the mass of the universe may still be made up of dark matter, cosmologists don't think that it would be enough to have gravity halt the expansion and cause a recollapse. This thinking is due in part to observation of supernovae in 1997, which indicated that the expansion is still accelerating and not slowing down at all.

A longer lasting universe won't do much for us though as it is thought that in the very distant (like, 1030 years distant - 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years!) the proton will decay, all the stars will run out of fuel and be engulfed by black holes, which in turn will radiate all their mass, (as described in the article on black holes), leaving the Universe a vast, cold, sterile and lifeless place.

However, some cosmologists do think that there will be no Big Crunch!

thanks a lot.


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