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Dark matter was first conceptualised in 1977 by scientists who suggested the substance, which is thought to make up roughly 25 per cent of the universe, is responsible for all of the unseen substance in space.
The existence of dark matter would go towards explaining why galaxies rotate and why they stick together, rather than stars flying off in all directions.
When the theory was first established, experts said dark matter consisted of hypothetical particles called axions.
Evidence of these particles has been few and far between, leaving the theory as just that, a theory – rather than proven.
However, China’s Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) satellite, launched in 2015, is now helping to shed light on the elusive substance.
The team of researchers from China, Switzerland and Italy say that their first study has cast light on “the annihilation or decay of particle dark matter”.
Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: “This new unseen phenomena can bring breakthroughs.
“After collecting more data, if we can identify it is dark matter for sure then that is very significant.
“And if not, it is even more significant because they would be fresh new particles that no one had predicted before.”
DAMPE chief scientist Chang Jin said: “Proving the existence of dark matter takes a lot of time.
“Now we have worked out the most precise spectrum, but we are not 100 per cent sure that this can lead us to the location of dark matter,”
DAMPE has been nicknamed ‘Wukong’ after Sun Wukong – the Monkey King from the Chinese tale ‘Journey to the West’.
‘Wu’ means ‘understanding’ and ‘kong; means ‘void’ so it literally translates as ‘understanding the void’.
The satellite is designed to detect gamma rays – high-energy beams of light – and cosmic rays.
Some theorise dark matter can break down into cosmic rays, especially pairs of electrons and positrons.
When the positrons and electrons collide, they annihilate each other and produce gamma rays.
DAMPE will measure the amount of energy in gamma and cosmic rays which will help to detect where they originated from, which could prove to be dark matter.