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How Fast Does Dark Matter Fall?

Date:
October 1, 2006
Source:
American Physical Society
Summary:
Dark matter is mysterious stuff. Scientists don't really know much about it at all, other than the fact that there seems to be a lot of it in the universe. Thanks to a new analysis by physicists at Caltech and the University of Toronto, we can expect that lumps of dark matter gravitationally attract each other in just the same way that lumps of normal matter (like you and the earth, for instance) attract each other.

Dark matter is mysterious stuff. Scientists don't really know much about it at all, other than the fact that there seems to be a lot of it in the universe. Thanks to a new analysis by physicists at Caltech and the University of Toronto, we can expect that lumps of dark matter gravitationally attract each other in just the same way that lumps of normal matter (like you and the earth, for instance) attract each other.

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The researchers drew their conclusion by studying the distribution of stars in the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy that orbits our Milky Way.

If dark matter experienced different forces from normal matter, it would change the relative amounts of stars kicked out ahead and behind the dwarf galaxy as a result of its interaction with our own galaxy. But the new study finds that the star distribution is just what we should expect if dark matter obeys the same gravitational laws as regular matter, to within an error of 10 percent.

Future observations and improvements in our understanding of dark matter distributions should reduce the uncertainty to a few percent.

The analysis helps eliminate astrophysical models that explain the distribution of material in the universe by proposing exotic forms of gravitational interactions for dark matter. In addition, despite the fact that there is broad speculation regarding the true identity of dark matter and no guarantee that we will ever capture it or produce it in the lab, at least we now know how long it will take to reach the floor if a resident of a dark matter planet were to knock a bit of it off of a table.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Physical Society. "How Fast Does Dark Matter Fall?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060930094827.htm>.
American Physical Society. (2006, October 1). How Fast Does Dark Matter Fall?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060930094827.htm
American Physical Society. "How Fast Does Dark Matter Fall?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060930094827.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

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