Science news: Experts on hunt for ‘DARK FORCE’ of the Universe | Science | News

If experts discover this supposed dark force of nature, it will “completely change” the understanding of the universe.

Currently, physicists only understand what four percent of the observable universe is made up of – the rest is considered dark matter.

Dark matter was first conceptualised in 1977 by scientists who suggested the material 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.

Mauro Raggi, a researcher at the Sapienza University of Rome, said: “At the moment, we don’t know what more than 90 percent of the universe is made of.

“If we find this force it will completely change the paradigm we have now. It would open up a new world and help us to understand the particles and forces that compose the dark sector.”

The scientists involved in a new project are set to turn on a new instrument at at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics near Rome which will search for some of the mysterious substances which make up the universe.

The machine is known as Padme, for Positron Annihilation into Dark Matter Experiment, and will record the results of when a diamond which is just a tenth of a millimetre thick is blasted with a stream of antimatter particles called positrons.

As the positrons hit the diamond, they emerge with electrons and vanish in a blast of energy.

When the energy from the electrons is released, they release two photons – light particles.

However, if a mysterious “dark” force does exist then occasionally, the blast will release only one photon, alongside a so-called “dark photon”.

Any dark photons which are released will not be seen by Padme, but scientists will be able to tell if there was anything there by the way energy is released.

Although scientists say the chances of discovering anything are slim, if something is found it would have huge implications in understanding the universe.

Bryan McKinnon, a research fellow at Glasgow University, is involved in the search for the particle at the Thomas Jefferson national accelerator facility in Virginia, said: “The dark photon, if it exists, is effectively a portal.

He said: “It lets us peer into the dark sector to see what is happening. It won’t open the floodgates, but it will allow us to have a little look.

“It would definitely be a huge thing in physics if some evidence of a dark sector was found.

“Right now, it’s labelled as such because it’s the stuff we don’t understand.

“If a door can be opened, what will come out? That’s guesswork right now.”

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