If you can't beat nature, join it.
In the search for a means of detecting dark matter, scientists may have discovered a way to finally grasp the nature of this mysterious substance, according to a recent study published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
And the new way lies in the ultradense matter of neutron stars.
As of writing, scientists have only indirectly inferred the existence of dark matter, and have yet to directly detect the bizarre substance that comprises most of the universe. It's not an easy ask for physicists to identify dark matter particles in Earth-based experiments, since they interact with regular matter with unimaginably rare frequency. So to find them, we'll need an extremely large detector — so big that it's unconscionably impractical to build one here on Earth. But nature has provided us a viable alternative means in the form of neutron stars, which can operate as a colossal dark matter detector, according to the study.
The researchers have uncovered a way to glean information of a much more accurate variety from these unique and gigantic dark matter detectors. Neutron stars are the densest ones known to science, and come into being when colossal stars die in a supernova explosion. The core remaining afterwards then collapses into a tightly-packed sphere, pulled inward by gravity with such great force that the protons and electrons combine, and create neutrons. In this state, a neutron star with the mass of our sun would have a roughly 6.2 miles (10 km) radius, and even a single teaspoon of the neutron star's matter would have a mass equivalent to one billion tons.
That's a heavy spoon.
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