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Tantalizing ‘signals’ from a handful of recent high-energy searches for dark matter are more likely the product of conventional astrophysics than the first tentative detections of the universe’s missing mass, say skeptical astrophysicists.

“A decade ago, no [one] would make these claims without first checking and re-checking that it couldn’t be from some normal astrophysical source,” Stacy McGaugh, an astrophysicist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, told Forbes. “Nowadays, the attitude seems to be that if you don’t immediately recognize what it is, it must be dark matter; [with] no penalty for ‘crying wolf’ over and over again.”

Even so, the theoretical stakes remain high.

That’s because for the better part of a century, cosmological “cold dark matter” has been needed to explain the gravitational dynamics of much of the cosmos’ visible matter; including the rotation rates of massive galaxies like our own.

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