In astronomy and cosmology, dark matter is a type of matter hypothesized to account for a large part of the total mass in the universe. Dark matter cannot be seen directly with telescopes; evidently it neither emits nor absorbs light or other electromagnetic radiation at any significant level. Instead, its existence and properties are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation, and the large-scale structure of the universe. According to the Planck mission team, and based on the standard model of cosmology, the total mass–energy of the universe contains 4.9% ordinary matter, 26.8% dark matter and 68.3% dark energy. Thus, dark matter is estimated to constitute 84.5% of the total matter in the universe.
Dark matter came to the attention of astrophysicists due to discrepancies between the mass of large astronomical objects determined from their gravitational effects, and the mass calculated from the "luminous matter" they contain: stars, gas and dust. It was first postulated by Jan Oort in 1932 to account for the orbital velocities of stars in the Milky Way, and by Fritz Zwicky in 1933 to account for evidence of "missing mass" in the orbital velocities of galaxies in clusters. Subsequently, many other observations have indicated the presence of dark matter in the universe, including the rotational speeds of galaxies by Vera Rubin, in the 1960s-1970s, gravitational lensing of background objects by galaxy clusters such as the Bullet Cluster, the temperature distribution of hot gas in galaxies and clusters of galaxies, and more recently the pattern of anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background. According to consensus among cosmologists, dark matter is composed primarily of a not yet characterized type of subatomic particle. The search for this particle, by a variety of means, is one of the major efforts in particle physics today.
Although the existence of dark matter is generally accepted by the mainstream scientific community, there is no generally agreed direct detection of it. Other theories including MOND and TeVeS, are some alternative theories of gravity proposed to try to explain the anomalies for which dark matter is intended to account.
On 3 April 2013, NASA scientists reported that hints of dark matter may have been detected by the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station. According to the scientists, "The first results from the space-borne Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer confirm an unexplained excess of high-energy positrons in Earth-bound cosmic rays."
Last updated: 31 July 2017