If you were to take a step back from the Milky Way and attempt to observe our universe, you’d see a plethora of bright and colorful sectors made up of seemingly uncountable stellar systems. Taking a step further away, you’d see other galaxies, similar in characteristics, but still very different from our own Milky Way.
The plot twist, however, is that the visible matter of these galaxies is only thought to comprise of about 5% of the universe’s total matter. The other 95% is purportedly comprised of an invisible type of matter that many scientists in the field like to call ‘dark matter.’
Dark matter has yet to be observed directly, but based on mathematical calculations that can be proven, galaxies like the Milky Way and its many neighbors aren’t spinning or moving at the expected rate of speed. Furthermore, the math supports the notion that galaxies should be getting pulled apart by the forces being imposed on them; yet this isn’t the case.
Assuming dark matter exists, it would act much like cosmic glue, holding all of the universe’s visible structural integrity intact. These particles, dubbed Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (or WIMPs), could allegedly pass through regular matter, including the Earth itself. There are dark matter sensors on Earth, but they have yet to detect anything. Lacking data has given rise to the theory that WIMPs are so weak that modern detectors simply can’t detect them.
Dark matter is often confused with dark energy, but these are each two very different concepts with different scientists studying each. With a little luck, perhaps the secret behind these two largely misunderstood forces will one day be revealed.