Writing in a study published in the journal Physical Review Letters, a researcher from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) suggests that dark matter – thought to comprise approximately 80% of the mass in the known Universe – could be older than the Big Bang itself.
“The study revealed a new connection between particle physics and astronomy. If dark matter consists of new particles that were born before the Big Bang, they affect the way galaxies are distributed in the sky in a unique way. This connection may be used to reveal their identity and make conclusions about the times before the Big Bang too,” said the sole author of the study Tommi Tenkanen from JHU.
According to Tenkanen, one good reason to doubt that dark matter is a remnant of the Big Bang is the lack of any promising findings in particle physics experiments conducted during the last several decades.
Thanks to a simple mathematical framework, the study was capable of showing that dark matter may have formed during the so-called cosmic inflation which led to the rapid expansion of space and the copious production of a type of particles called scalars (the Higgs boson remains the only scalar particle discovered to this day).
“We do not know what dark matter is, but if it has anything to do with any scalar particles, it may be older than the Big Bang. With the proposed mathematical scenario, we don’t have to assume new types of interactions between visible and dark matter beyond gravity, which we already know is there,” explained Tenkanen.
Although the general idea that dark matter predates the Big Bang is not a new one, Tenkanne’s paper is probably the first to propose a means of supporting it with mathematical calculations, as well as a way to test the origins of dark matter by observing its signature on the way matter is distributed across the Universe.
Tenkanen hopes that inquiries into the origins of dark matter could become not only energised, but also more fruitful with the launch of the European Euclid satellite in 2022. “It’s going to be very exciting to see what it will reveal about dark matter and if its findings can be used to peak [sic] into the times before the Big Bang.”