Asked by miguel to Andi, Alice, Bas, Daniel, Rhian on 12 Mar 2015. This question was also asked by ancapavel23.
Keywords: dark matter
That’s tough question for a geoscientist, isn’t it? Maybe a theoretical physicist could answer this perfectly. As far as I know, dark matter cannot be seen or measured directly. It is rather something hypothetical that can be encountered by “weird” effects on experiments with gravity or radiation.
Imagine you do an experiment, and by our accepted laws of physics you know which result you will get. If the result is different, you have two options: either your phsical law is wrong or (if you are really sure that your laws are correct) something else that you haven’t thought of before influences your experiment.
And after loads and loads of such experiments, people have thought of the concept of dark matter. And it still remains a big mystery in physics.
All the best,
I agree with Andy, this is a bit of a hard question for geoscientists…not really our expertise!
Apparently astrophysicists use the dark matter (which is only an hypothetical kind of matter, as Andi was also pointing out, because it can’t be seen with telescopes) to explain why they find a difference between the mass of large astronomical objects determined in two different ways:
1. their mass calculated from their gravitational effects
2. their mass calculated from the matter that they contain (like stars, gas, dust…) as far as we can observe.
Since these two don’t result in the same number, dark matter is used to explain that remaining part.
Apparently astrophysicists think that dark matter accounts for most of the matter in the Universe! But I really don’t know anything more about this, sorry…
great answers by Andi and Alice! 🙂
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