Tag Archives | Dark Matter

Dark Matter ‘Disc’ May Have Killed the Dinosaurs

PIC: Nina Zeretsky/National Science Foundation (PD)

PIC: Nina Zeretsky/National Science Foundation (PD)

As if blazing comets pounding into the earth and wiping out giant lizard monsters isn’t metal enough, now some scientists are speculating that “dark matter” may have played a role in the great dinosaur die-off. The scientists theorize that as our solar system circles around the center of our galaxy it might pass through a dark matter “disc” every 35 million years. The disc might send comets flying our way. Me? I think I’ll call it the Loc-Nar theory of mass extinction.

Via New Scientist:

Its name has always made it sound ominous – and now dark matter could have a menacing role in Earth’s history. A recent explanation for the identity of the mysterious stuff leads to a scenario in which it could be to blame for the extinctions of dinosaurs, or at least send a few extra comets shooting our way.

Although the sequence of events connecting dark matter to dinosaurs, or even comets, is still pretty tenuous, it is intriguing because it brings together two big open questions: the identity of dark matter and whether there is a pattern to comet strikes on Earth.

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Earth May Have Dark Matter Halo

Dark matter haloScientists have discovered that the Earth is heavier than they thought, with so-called Dark Matter being the leading candidate for the planet packing on the pounds, reports New Scientist:

GPS is handy for finding a route, but it might be able to solve fundamental questions in physics too. An analysis of GPS satellite orbits hints that Earth is heavier than thought, perhaps due to a halo of dark matter.

Dark matter is thought to make up about 80 per cent of the universe’s matter, but little else is known about it, including its distribution in the solar system. Hints that the stuff might surround Earth come from observations of space probes, several of which changed their speeds in unexpected ways as they flew past Earth. In 2009, Steve Adler of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, showed how dark matter bound by Earth’s gravity could explain these anomalies.

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Art Bell Returns!

Picture: Kelly Murphy for "Dark Matter"

Picture: Kelly Murphy for “Dark Matter”

No, he wasn’t in an underground bunker, and he wasn’t abducted!

Without much fanfare, the godfather of paranormal late night talk radio has returned to the airwaves. This time, beaming from an extraterrestrial satellite orbiting the globe and back into homes, Art Bell has signed a contract with Sirius/XM to bring spookiness back to dark nights huddled around the radio. Still operating from his desert enclave in Pahrump, the grizzled master of ceremonies proves that he’s still got the panache to handle topics scientific and… well, we’ll just say fringe.

His first interview back behind the mic was with Coast-to-Coast veteran and world-renowned physicist Michio Kaku, now famous as a popular science advocate for his work on Explorations in Science, Big Think and countless other outlets. An appropriate choice considering Art’s new show is named Dark Matter, and the CUNY Professor of Theoretical Physics opens our ears and minds to the cosmic, the subatomic, and the quantum in the same way that Art Bell had introduced us to the astral, the demonic, and the ghostly over his career.… Read the rest

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Dark Matter Collides With Your Body About Once a Minute

Dark MatterRebecca Boyle writes on Popular Science:

A dark matter particle smacks into an average person’s body about once a minute, and careens off oxygen and hydrogen nuclei in your cells, according to theoretical physicists. Dark matter is streaming through you as you read this, most of it unimpeded.

Dark matter is arguably the greatest mystery in modern physics. Observations from multiple sources across a few decades now shows that most of the universe is made of matter we can’t see — hence the name — but no one has been able to find it. One strong candidate for this dark material is called a WIMP, for weakly interacting massive particle, and there are a variety of observatories in Europe and the U.S. that are looking for these things. Some have found promising hints, but others have seen a whole lot of nothing.

Still, cosmologists generally agree there’s a halo of dark matter particles out there, and our solar system and our planet are flying through it.

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The Dark Matter Map

Dark MatterSo that’s what’s out there … Jason Palmer reports from the annual American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin for BBC News:

Researchers have released the biggest images yet detailing dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up three-quarters of the Universe’s mass.

Each image, a billion light-years across, shows vast dark matter clumps and voids scattered through the cosmos.

The team from the Canada-France Hawaii Telescope inferred the dark matter’s existence by the way it bends light.

The images were presented at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, US.

The four images were taken at four different seasons of the year, each capturing a swath of the sky about as large as a palm held at arm’s length.

They are a big step forward in understanding both dark matter itself, and the means by which dark matter influences the way normal matter clumps into the galaxies we see in the night skies.

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Dark Energy: The Biggest Mystery in the Universe

Far from light and plunged into months-long darkness, Antarctica's South Pole Telescope is one of the best places on Earth for observing the universe. Photo: Keith Vanderlinde / National Science Foundation

Far from light and plunged into months-long darkness, Antarctica's South Pole Telescope is one of the best places on Earth for observing the universe. Photo: Keith Vanderlinde / National Science Foundation

At the South Pole, astronomers try to unravel a force greater than gravity that will determine the fate of the cosmos. Richard Panek reports for Smithsonian Magazine:

Twice a day, seven days a week, from February to November for the past four years, two researchers have layered themselves with thermal underwear and outerwear, with fleece, flannel, double gloves, double socks, padded overalls and puffy red parkas, mummifying themselves until they look like twin Michelin Men. Then they step outside, trading the warmth and modern conveniences of a science station (foosball, fitness center, 24-hour cafeteria) for a minus-100-degree Fahrenheit featureless landscape, flatter than Kansas and one of the coldest places on the planet. They trudge in darkness nearly a mile, across a plateau of snow and ice, until they discern, against the backdrop of more stars than any hands-in-pocket backyard observer has ever seen, the silhouette of the giant disk of the South Pole Telescope, where they join a global effort to solve possibly the greatest riddle in the universe: what most of it is made of.

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Dark Matter ‘Wrecking Ball’ May Have Hit Milky Way

Orion NebulaxDan Vergano writes in USA TODAY:

Darth Vader’s Death Star? Ming the Merciless and his war rockets? The awesome power of Chuck Norris?

Piffle, suggests one astrophysicist, at least when it comes to explaining what force could have permanently bent a ring in our Milky Way Galaxy within the last 60 million years. The real explanation may be the power of an invisible wrecking ball made of dark matter — a cloud of the enigmatic physics particles born in the fiery aftermath of the Big Bang and weighing as much as 10 million suns.

Left behind by this “Dark Matter Clump” cataclysm was a tilted swirl of newborn stars circling within the galaxy called the ” Gould Belt,” which incidentally may have sent comets hurtling towards Earth, suggests astrophysicist Kenji Bekki of Australia’s University of New South Wales in a recent Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal.

More in USA TODAY

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