Can Dark Matter be Found Here on Earth? Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion May 7, 2020

A new way of looking for dark matter may come from looking at data we already have found deep underground...

Dark matter may not give off any light or radiation, but we might be able to watch it smash into atoms here on Earth.

By James Maynard

The LZ detector is equipped with 494 photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), searching for signs of dark matter. Image credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Dark matter makes up 85 percent of all matter in the Universe, but astronomers have never seen it. The nature of this mysterious — something — remains largely unknown.

The mass which we call dark matter does not give off light, heat, radio waves, or any other form of electromagnetic radiation. But, astronomers and physicists know something (and a LOT of it) is out there. Without dark matter, galaxies would tear apart, and clusters of galaxies would fly to pieces. This gravitational bond between dark matter and “normal” matter is how it was first detected.

Dark matter can also interact with the protons and neutrons in the nucleus of atoms, producing flashes of light (and other signals) called scattering. This is akin to a pair of people walking around a completely dark room. Although it would be impossible to see the other person, a participant could hear the sound of their partner when they stub their toe on the corner of a table.

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