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Will we ever understand what dark matter is made from?

1 Mar 2013, 15:00 UTC
Will we ever understand what dark matter is made from?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

(This piece originally appeared in the “Will we ever?” column at BBC Future. Though I added a few visuals, I left the UK spellings and BBC stylebook conventions in place. My thanks to Simon Frantz for editing the text from my usual ramblings into something coherent. Even if he did cut out my Pink Floyd song quote.)
Beautiful as it is, the Universe hides a great deal of its secrets from us. All the stars, galaxies, and other objects we see mask the presence of another substance that comprises 84% of all the mass in the cosmos. That substance, which in our ignorance we call dark matter, has proven annoyingly elusive for the better part of a century.
Detecting dark matter directly has proved to be tricky, but there is strong evidence for its existence, and it comes from a variety of sources. The first hint of dark matter’s existence came in 1933, when Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky calculated that the Virgo Cluster of galaxies didn’t have enough visible matter in the form of gas and stars to hold it together. It must be embedded in a halo of something invisible, or else it would fly apart. In the early ...

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