In astronomy and cosmology, dark matter is a type of matter hypothesized to account for a large part of the total mass in the universe. Dark matter cannot be seen directly with telescopes; evidently it neither emits nor absorbs light or other electromagnetic radiation at any significant level. Instead, its existence and properties are inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, radiation, and the large scale structure of the universe. Dark matter is estimated to constitute 84% of the matter in the universe and 23% of the mass-energy.
Dark matter came to the attention of astrophysicists due to discrepancies between the mass of large astronomical objects determined from their gravitational effects, and the mass calculated from the "luminous matter" they contain; such as stars, gas and dust. It was first postulated by Jan Oort in 1932 to account for the orbital velocities of stars in the Milky Way and Fritz Zwicky in 1933 to account for evidence of "missing mass" in the orbital velocities of galaxies in clusters. Subsequently, other observations have indicated the presence of dark matter in the universe, including the rotational speeds of galaxies, gravitational lensing of background objects by galaxy clusters such as the Bullet Cluster, and the temperature distribution of hot gas in galaxies and clusters of galaxies. According to consensus among cosmologists, dark matter is composed primarily of a new, not yet characterized, type of subatomic particle. The search for this particle, by a variety of means, is one of the major efforts in particle physics today.
Although the existence of dark matter is generally accepted by the mainstream scientific community, several alternative theories have been proposed to try to explain the anomalies for which dark matter is intended to account.
Famous quotes containing the words dark and/or matter:
“On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose,
Tired of his dark dominion, swung the fiend
Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,”
—George Meredith (18281909)
“If a being suffers there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like sufferinginsofar as rough comparisons can be madeof any other being.”
—Peter Singer (b. 1946)