Astronomers have created a new technology that will help in the search for dark matter


Radar detection of atmospheric ionization by meteors

Astronomers have come up with an unusual use for meteors – the latter could help develop a new way to detect dark matter (a mysterious substance that is still known only through an indirect, gravitational influence on its environment).

There is five times more dark matter in the universe than ordinary matter. It makes up 85% of the entire mass of the universe and 26.8% of the total mass-energy. Dark matter does not interact with ordinary matter in any way, except for gravitational influence, it does not emit light, and it is generally unknown whether it consists of particles, and if it consists of which ones.

But in new study scientists unexpectedly proposed using ground-based radar systems to search for dark matter.

One of the authors of the work, John Become, professor of physics and astronomy, says that if previous attempts to study dark matter were associated with the search for individual particles of small mass, then their new method is based on working with macroscopic dark matter: particles of large mass, which before traditional ground detectors may simply not reach.


If the mass of dark matter particles turns out to be large, then the particles will be rare, and it will be difficult to detect them. However, scientists propose to use for this technology, which is used to track meteors.

Meteors (and dark matter particles), passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, leave an ionized trail of electrons and positively charged atoms. Electromagnetic radiation from radars is reflected from these free electrons. With luck, it will be possible to turn the entire atmosphere of the planet into one large dark matter detector.

Become says he is surprised that this technology, which has been used for decades to track meteorites, has not yet been used to search for dark matter. You can also use the data already accumulated in the study of meteorites, processing them in such a way as to find traces of dark matter particles.

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