Physicists believe that most of the matter in the universe is made up of dark matter, an invisible substance that only manifests through its gravitational effects on stars and galaxies.
This mysterious substance makes up approximately 85% of the universe’s mass, but it doesn’t emit or absorb light, making it challenging to detect.
Dark matter is believed to be made up of an unknown fundamental particle, with weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) and axions as the leading hypothetical candidates.
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In a new study published in Nature Astronomy, Alfred Amruth and his team at the University of Hong Kong used gravitational lensing to provide insight into the nature of dark matter.
Gravitational lensing occurs when the path of light from a distant galaxy is bent around a massive object, such as another galaxy, creating a distorted image.
By studying how these images are distorted, astronomers can learn about the properties of the dark matter halo surrounding the closer galaxy.
The team studied several systems and compared how the images would appear if dark matter was made of WIMPs or axions.
The result showed that axions were a more probable candidate for dark matter, accurately reproducing all features of the system.
Previous studies have also pointed towards axions as the more likely form of dark matter.
A better understanding of dark matter could have implications for particle physics and the early universe and could help us understand how galaxies form and change over time.
Future gravitational lensing observations could potentially measure the mass and wave-like nature of axions, opening new avenues for experimentation and testing.
Source The Conversation