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Latest dark matter searches leave scientists empty-handed

Physicists ponder possibilities for bulk of universe’s mass

5:30am, October 25, 2016
galaxy cluster

DARK GRAVITY  In this cluster of galaxies, the location of dark matter is shown in blue. Scientists indirectly detected this dark matter through its gravitational influence, which bends and distorts the light of galaxies in the background. So far, all efforts to directly detect particles of the invisible matter have fallen flat.

Scientists have lost their latest round of hide-and-seek with dark matter, but they’re not out of the game.

Despite overwhelming evidence that an exotic form of matter lurks unseen in the cosmos, decades of searches have failed to definitively detect a single particle of dark matter. While some scientists continue down the road of increasingly larger detectors designed to catch the particles, others are beginning to consider a broader landscape of possibilities for what dark matter might be.

“We’ve been looking where our best guess told us to look for all these years, and we’re starting to wonder if we maybe guessed wrong,” says theoretical astrophysicist Dan Hooper of Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. “People are just opening their minds to a wider range of options.”

Dark matter permeates the cosmos: The material keeps galaxies from flying apart and has left its imprints in the oldest light in the universe, the cosmic microwave

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