Universe's dark matter and dark energy may be two faces of the same coin

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Washington, Feb 2 : Gaining in-depth knowledge of two mysterious constituents of the Universe may help demystify the dark side of it, say astronomers at the University of St Andrews.

Dr HongSheng Zhao of the university's School of Physics and Astronomy says that the mystifying dark matter, and its counterpart dark energy may be more closely associated than was earlier thought.

Only four per cent of the universe consists of known material, the other 96 percent is traditionally categorized into two sectors - dark matter and dark energy.

"Both dark matter and dark energy could be two faces of the same coin. As astronomers gain understanding of the subtle effects of dark energy in galaxies in the future, we will solve the mystery of astronomical dark matter at the same time," Zhao said.

According to astronomers, both the universe and galaxies are held together by the gravitational attraction of a huge amount of unseen material, referred to as dark matter.

"Dark energy has already revealed its presence by masking as dark matter 60 years ago if we accept that dark matter and dark energy are linked phenomena that share a common origin," Zhao said.

In his model, dark energy and dark matter are simply different manifestations of the same thing, which he has considered as a 'dark fluid'.

On the scale of galaxies, this dark fluid behaves like matter and on the scale of the Universe overall as dark energy, driving the expansion of the Universe.

Zhao's model is detailed enough to produce the same 3:1 ratio of dark energy to dark matter as is predicted by cosmologists.

Efforts to hunt for very massive dark-matter particles are currently underway. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva is a particle accelerator that amongst other objectives, could potentially detect dark matter particles.

Dr Zhao believes that these efforts could turn out to be fruitless.

"In this simpler picture of universe, the dark matter would be at a surprisingly low energy scale, too low to be probed by upcoming Large Hadron Collider," he said.

"The search for dark-matter particles so far has concentrated on highly-energetic particles. If dark matter however is a twin phenomenon of dark energy, it will not show up at instruments like the LHC, but has been seen over and over again in galaxies by astronomers," he added.

But the Universe might be absent of dark-matter particles at all. The findings of Zhao are also compatible with an interpretation of the dark component as a modification of the law of gravity rather than particles or energy.

"No matter what dark matter and dark energy are, these two phenomena are likely not independent of each other," Zhao said.

ANI

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