Dark matter is believed to make up about a quarter of the content of the Universe, but there actually isn’t a lot that’s known about it. It doesn’t reflect or absorb anything on the electromagnetic spectrum, making it incredibly hard to detect. Two astrophysicists from the Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences have formulated a new hypothesis that dark matter is comprised of “black hole atoms” which are potentially either microscopic or quantum. The hypothesis was detailed in an open access format in the journal Advances in High Energy Physics.
Dark matter is unable to interact with the electromagnetic spectrum and cannot be imaged with current technology, just like black holes. However, it does interact with regular matter via gravity, just like black holes. These similarities have been observed for quite some time, leading many to think that dark matter could be composed of some form of small black hole.
The hypothesis put forward by Vyacheslav Dokuchaev and Yury Eroshenko isn’t entirely novel, though there are some key distinctions within it. They postulate that a type of dark matter existed early in the Universe and that it had an electric charge and are essentially microscopic “black hole atoms.” As it interacted with other charged particles, it would have been left with a neutral charge that is only weakly able to interact with visible matter. Though smaller than an atom, each of these particles could have weighed from 1014 kg to 1023 kg. On the larger end of that spectrum, it would have a similar mass to the moon.
These proposed black hole atoms are similar to the friedmon particle theorized about 40 years ago that are basically the TARDIS of particle physics: it’s bigger on the inside. While the outside of this particle could be quite small, the interior could be as large as the entire Universe.
There has been some immediate skepticism of this new hypothesis from Dokuchaev and Eroshenko. Valeri Frolov, who helped co-found the friedmon theory, told Space.com that friedmons are (albeit quite subtly) able to interact with the electromagnetic spectrum. Dark matter, on the other hand, cannot. Dark matter is most likely composed of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs).
Despite any flaws this hypothesis has, there’s no reason to discount it quite yet. After all, nobody really knows what it is made out of. Dokuchaev and Eroshenko propose that their particle could be detected indirectly, as it would interact with visible matter and could possibly produce a flash of energy as it draws electrons into itself.
[Hat tip: Katia Moskvitch, Space.com]