One of the biggest mysteries in physics today is dark matter. This is the name given to the 85% of matter in the galaxies whose existence can be inferred but which gives off no direct signs of any kind, including light. Dark matter is considered not to be “regular” matter, of the kind that makes up cats, smartphones, and stars. But this is pretty much all that can be said about it, so any advancement in our knowledge of what it could or couldn’t be is highly sought after.
On the other hand, antimatter, a staple of science fiction, conjures exotic images but is actually regular matter. It just has opposite electric charge that we usually think of matter having, and a few other sub-atomic qualities, which gives it the infamous property of exploding when it comes in contact with matter in our everyday world.
In a recent study, physicists wondered whether the mysterious dark matter could actually consist of plain old antimatter, because, well, there is nothing that would in principle prevent this. The researchers at Case Western Reserve University and Vanderbilt University followed a recent trend, asking whether dark matter can take the form of “nuggets” of particles bounded together and floating in interstellar space. They worked from existing data that they hoped would say something about the presence or absence of antimatter nuggets throughout the Milky Way and the universe at large.
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