Dark Matter

Dark matter illustrated as a darkly colored substance strung throughout a large, sample expanse in the universe, with heavier concentrations colored black and thinner concentration rendered in light gray. Normal, luminous matter appears clustered into glowing galaxies and galaxy clusters found along the filaments of the dark matter cosmic web. (Image Credit: AMNH/KIPAC/SLAClab/Stanford)

Dark matter is a theoretical type of matter thought to comprise about 80 percent of all matter in the universe. Unlike the "normal" matter that makes up stars, the Earth and everything recognizable in daily life, dark matter is completely invisible. The only way dark matter is known to interact with normal matter is through the force of gravity. One way astrophysicists originally inferred dark matter's existence decades ago was by measuring the rotation rates of galaxies, finding that the gravity generated by available visible matter is insufficient to keep galaxies from flying apart. Further evidence for dark matter comes from "gravitational lensing," wherein unseen dark matter in clusters of galaxies gravitationally warps the fabric of space, causing light from background objects to bend and magnify. Leading models of cosmology indicate dark matter has played a key role in building up the weblike structure of galaxies throughout the universe. Scientists have proposed several hypothetical particles that could compose dark matter and that might fit into the framework of particle physics, called the Standard Model. The hunt for signs of the dark matter particles is taking place in special detectors deep underground, particle accelerators, and radiation beaming from space.

Building the Universe Pixel by Pixel

Aug 20, 2014

Three 'mapmakers' of the universe – Ralf Kaehler, Stuart Levy and Dylan Nelson – discuss how their dramatically intricate 3-D universes can tell important stories about the cosmos.

Searching High & Low for Dark Matter

Apr 04, 2014

During an annual conference, “Dark Matter 2014," hosted at University of California, Los Angeles, three leading physicists spent an hour discussing dark matter and its biggest highlights and prospects for future progress.

The Search for Dark Matter (Sidebar)

Dec 13, 2012

What is dark matter? We don’t know, but cosmologists, astrophysicists and experimental particle physicists say they are closing in on an answer. Read a short explanation of what scientists consider the leading candidate, as well as the methods being used to detect dark matter.

Are We Closing In On Dark Matter?

Dec 05, 2012

As the search for dark matter intensifies, a colloquium brought together cosmologists, particle physicists and observational astrophysicists --- three fields now united in the hunt to determine what is dark matter.

Discovering Dark Matter: A Conversation with Roger Blandford

Dec 04, 2012
Roger Blanford

KIPAC DIrector Roger Blandford discusses the recent meeting "Dark Matter Universe: On the Threshold of Discovery," which brought together astrophysics, cosmologists and particle physicists about the state of discovering dark matter.

Shining a Light on Dark Galaxies

Oct 05, 2012
The sky around the quasar HE0109-3518

Dark galaxies – galaxies with few if any stars and made predominately of dense gas – have been impossible to detect directly until now. Members of an international team of astronomers discuss their discovery and the place these galaxies hold in the universe.

"Dark Matters" - Incredible Simulations of an Invisible Universe

Jul 06, 2012

At the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, scientists are using massive computer simulations to create 3-D movies that reveal the mysteries of the universe in ways that almost let you reach out and grasp entire galaxies... and from any angle.

KICP: Leading the Quest to Crack Cosmological Mysteries

Feb 23, 2012

During its first decade as a Physics Frontier Center, the Kavli Institute helped to establish the current cosmological paradigm. 

Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, University of Tokyo

Feb 06, 2012

On February 8th in Japan, the University of Tokyo (Todai) announced that The Kavli Foundation had established an endowment for the university’s Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU). With the endowment, the Institute also became the 16th Kavli institute worldwide – the sixth in astrophysics, third in theoretical physics, and the first to be established in Japan.

A Roundtable Discussion with the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe

Feb 03, 2012
Hitoshi Murayama

At the newest Kavli Institute, solving the biggest mysteries of the cosmos is a "multilingual" enterprise where the research in mathematics, physics and astronomy combine to create a more complete understanding of the universe. A roundtable discussion with the Kavli IPMU's director and deputy directors.

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