A new search for dark matter has turned up empty handed — but, in a silver lining, the effort provided important limits that will help future experiments narrow down the hunt for this elusive substance.
Most astronomers believe that dark matter accounts for 85 percent of all mass in the universe, and that its existence would explain the apparent extra gravity detectable around galaxies and within huge galaxy clusters. However, so far, no one has been able to identify what dark matter is made of.
Until recently, the front-runner suspect had been a breed of particle called a WIMP, which is a neat acronym for Weakly Interacting Massive Particles. These theoretical particles are thought to barely interact with normal matter, except when it comes to gravity. However, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, has failed to turn up evidence for the existence of WIMPs.
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