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Darkish matter halos (yellow) kind round galaxies

Ralf Kaehler/SLAC Nationwide Accelerator Laboratory

Delicate may not be the primary phrase that springs to thoughts whenever you consider the Milky Means. However when Mariangela Lisanti began tinkering with the recipe for our galaxy, she discovered it surprisingly fragile.

Lisanti, a particle physicist at Princeton College, was simulating what would occur if darkish matter – the mysterious stuff thought to account for over 80 per cent of all of the matter within the universe – was extra unique than researchers usually assume. She swapped a small fraction of normal darkish matter with one thing extra complicated. “We thought, we’re solely including 5 per cent, the whole lot will likely be tremendous,” she says. “After which we simply broke the galaxy.”

There’s good cause for such meddling. For the reason that Eighties, astronomical indicators have pointed in direction of darkish matter being a single sort of slow-moving particle that doesn’t work together with itself. Particle physicists have gone to nice lengths to seek for that particle. However a long time later, it stays a no-show – maybe as a result of darkish matter isn’t how we have now tended to think about it.

Not too long ago, a sequence of galactic anomalies has sparked a scramble to discover alternate options. This “complicated” darkish matter is perhaps so simple as sub-atomic particles that bounce off one another, or as difficult as households of darkish particles that kind darkish atoms, stars and even galaxies. There’s a daunting number of prospects.

However now, observations of anomalies in our galaxy lastly promise to assist us slender down the choices. And with…

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