Oxford scientists may have solved one of the greatest enigmas of modern physics by unifying dark matter and dark energy into a single phenomenon: a fluid that possesses a “negative mass.”
If you were to push a negative mass, it would accelerate towards you.
This surprising new theory can also be successful in a prediction that Einstein made 100 years ago.
Our current and widely recognized model of the Universe, the ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) or Lambda-CDM, tells us nothing about how dark matter and dark energy are physically; we only know about them because of the gravitational effects they have on other observable matter.
The Lambda-CDM is commonly referred to as the standard model of Big Bang cosmology because, so far, it is the simplest model that offers a reasonably good account of the following properties of the universe:
- the existence and structure of the cosmic microwave background
- the large-scale structure in the distribution of galaxies
- the abundances of hydrogen (including deuterium), helium, and lithium
- the accelerating expansion of the universe observed in the light from distant galaxies and supernovae
However, the recently published model in ‘Astronomy and Astrophysics’, “A unifying theory of dark energy and dark matter: Negative masses and matter creation within a modified ΛCDM framework” by Dr. Jamie Farnes, of the Electronic Research Center of the Department of Engineering Sciences of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, offers a new, refreshing explanation.
“We now think that both dark matter and dark energy can be unified into a fluid which possesses a type of ‘negative gravity’. If real, it would suggest that the missing 95% of the cosmos had an aesthetic solution: we had forgotten to include a simple minus sign,” explained lead author of the study, Dr. James Farnes.
Previous studies ruled out the existence of negative matter since scientists believed that this material would become less dense as the Universe expanded, which goes against our observations that show that dark energy does not fade away over time.
But scientists from Oxford applied a new “creation tensor” to the model, explaining how negative masses can be continuously created.
Their explanation suggests that as more and more negative masses burst into existence, this negative mass fluid does not dissolve during the expansion of the cosmos. In fact, the fluid seems to be identical to dark energy.
Furthermore, Farnes’s theory also provides the first correct predictions of the behavior of dark matter haloes, a material that is thought to hold galaxies together.
This is important as galaxies rotate at extreme speeds and the basic laws of physics tell us that this phenomenon should cause them to tear themselves apart. Dark matter halos are believed to be the ‘glue’ that keeps them together.