Aug. 7 (UPI) — Dark matter may have existed before the Big Bang, according to astrophysicist Tommi Tenkanen, a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.
Scientists can only intimate the presence of dark matter by measuring its gravitational effect on regular matter. What it is, exactly, remains poorly understood.
Scientists do know, however, that dark matter and dark energy influences the formation and evolution of galaxies and galaxy clusters. Dark matter is an integral part of the story of the universe.
According to Tenkanen, if dark matter came first — before the Big Bang — it’s powerful influence on the evolving structure of the universe makes sense.
“The study revealed a new connection between particle physics and astronomy. If dark matter consists of new particles that were born before the Big Bang, they affect the way galaxies are distributed in the sky in a unique way,” Tenkanen said in a news release. “This connection may be used to reveal their identity and make conclusions about the times before the Big Bang too.”
Previously, scientists hypothesized dark matter was leftover from the Big Bang, but experiments have failed to confirm the theory.
“If dark matter were truly a remnant of the Big Bang, then in many cases researchers should have seen a direct signal of dark matter in different particle physics experiments already,” said Tenkanen.
Tenkanen developed a straightforward mathematical equation that showed dark matter may have been created prior to the Big Bang. The period before the Big Bang is known as cosmic inflation.
During cosmic inflation, space was expanding exponentially. Models predict this rapid expansion produced unique particles known as scalars. The Higgs boson is the only scalar so far discovered by scientists.
“We do not know what dark matter is, but if it has anything to do with any scalar particles, it may be older than the Big Bang,” Tenkanen said. “With the proposed mathematical scenario, we don’t have to assume new types of interactions between visible and dark matter beyond gravity, which we already know is there.”
According to Tenkanen, his mathematical formula — published this week in the journal Physical Review Letters — offers a simple explanation for dark matter, one that can be tested by analyzing the signatures dark matter left on the structure and distribution of ordinary matter in the early universe.
“While this type of dark matter is too elusive to be found in particle experiments, it can reveal its presence in astronomical observations,” Tenkanen said. “We will soon learn more about the origin of dark matter when the Euclid satellite is launched in 2022. It’s going to be very exciting to see what it will reveal about dark matter and if its findings can be used to peak into the times before the Big Bang.”