Fermilab Discovery Science Resources: Nine Questions
6. What is dark matter? How can we make it in the laboratory?
Most of the matter in the universe is dark. Without dark matter, galaxies and stars would not have formed and life would not exist. It holds the universe together. What is it?
Although the existence of dark matter was suggested in the 1930s, only in the last 10 to 15 years have scientists made substantial progress in understanding its properties, mostly by establishing what it is not. Recent observations of the effect of dark matter on the structure of the universe have shown that it is unlike any form of matter that we have discovered or measured in the laboratory. At the same time, new theories have emerged that may tell us what dark matter actually is. The theory of supersymmetry predicts new families of particles interacting very weakly with ordinary matter. The lightest supersymmetric particle could well be the elusive dark matter particle. We need to study dark matter directly by detecting relic dark matter particles in an underground detector and by creating dark matter particles at accelerators, where we can measure their properties and understand how they fit into the cosmic picture. review.