Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Dark Matter/Higgs Boson questions

  1. Jul 5, 2012 #1
    I've been reading physics articles for the past few years (after taking a physics course in high school), and a few questions have been daunting me, especially in light of a few new discoveries. I will try and cite any sources I can to back up the premises for my questions.

    I'll start with the simple one, I suppose.

    The Higgs Boson was recently discovered. Or, perhaps more accurately, a previously unknown but theorized particle has been discovered.

    What makes this particle the Higgs? To my understanding, we have proven that a particle exists in the range theorized, but I do not understand how we know this particle imbues matter with the property of mass.

    Dark matter seems to be a point of contention for many scientists. Some scientists claim that dark matter is an entirely new form of matter, while others suggest it is simply a place-holder.

    We have failed to find it around our sun: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/dark-matter-sun-gravity_n_1438425.html

    We have found many more suns http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/12/01/us-space-stars-idUSTRE6B053U20101201, reducing the amount of dark matter in the universe by a substantial amount.

    We "discovered" a dark matter tendril (which had been theorized) connecting two galaxies: http://www.nature.com/news/dark-matter-s-tendrils-revealed-1.10951

    For the purposes of these questions, please assume that dark matter is not a place-holder, and instead focus on whether or not it exists.

    1. In the Nature article referring to "tendrils", they say that up to 9% could be hot gas, and 10% could be galaxies/visible stars. A) Is it at all possible that they are operating under the assumptions that there are far fewer stars than there actually are (basically, is the research from the Reuter's article taken into account), B) and why can these tendrils not simply be made up of regular matter?

    2. Assuming dark matter exists, why would it be practically missing from our solar system/galaxy?

    3. I understand why traditional black holes are no longer a contender for dark matter, but why is it more likely that a different form of matter is existent, rather than a different form of black hole (for instance, simply one without the same radiation output)?

    Thank you in advance for reading/answering my questions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2012 #2
    Hello, Galin!

    Initially I thought you question posed had something to do with the interrelation between the newly discovered Higgs and Dark matter, which has been a question posed by the physics community before that has yet to be met with an answer. However, upon further reading, from what I can tell, you want an answer for the questionable concepts of each, am I right?

    Addressing the Higgs Boson, this is a quick, explanatory video of the basic properties and a short history of the Higgs Boson that is a good thing to watch. CERN Laboratories posted it to their wall not too long ago:

    However, we must bear in mind the fact that they have not considerably determined that the new boson is THE Standard Model Higgs Boson, only that this is a new boson that is a fundamental scalar boson, essentially possessing Higgs-like properties. It will be a while, and plenty of labor, until CERN can finally tell the public exactly what they've found. For further reading on that subject, Physics World has a good article on it:

    Adressing the Dark Matter situation, which will be harder (due to the fact that Dark Matter is not exactly my strong suit), the Nature article you posted seems to be lacking. As for Science Magazine, I can't seem to find an article addressing the "Dark Matter Tendrils" you've brought up. However, Physics World, again, seems to have a very in depth article concerning the matter:

    It seems to me, however, that no one has given thought to the Reuter's article you've posted concerning the massive increase in the previously thought amount of stars in the galaxy. In essence, all I can tell you for certain is that you're right; Dark Matter is very much a point of contention for scientists. However, the Physics World article seems to have more of a definitive answer to the make-up of the Dark Matter Filament, however, they do stress the fact that we still don't know for certain and that people are working towards proving that this Dark Matter Bridge is in fact, Dark Matter.

    Sorry, I know this all seems relatively wishy-washy, but I hope the articles posted can help answer at least some of your questions. However, if they actually end up posing more questions, feel free to reply, and I'll do my best to answer them.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  4. Jul 10, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    This result is not yet universally accepted. See for example here.
  5. Jul 11, 2012 #4
    @Bill K - Thank you! That helps significantly.

    @Sage - So, I was correct in assuming we had not discovered the higgs boson, but rather, a boson that has yet to be identified? It can be difficult reading a lot of these articles, as they all definitively state it was discovered.

    It's good to know that regular matter, using modified Newtonian gravity, could account for this.

    I really wish I could get a straight answer on whether or not they are taking these suns into account. Tripling the number of suns in the universe seems to be a massive change in the amount of visible matter. For instance, they say about 5% of the matter in the filament could be made up of suns. Assuming they haven't taken it into account, it bumps that number to 15%.

    The only question I have left is number 3.
  6. Jul 11, 2012 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Quoting from Wikipedia: (MACHO = Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Object, meaning any astronomical body made of normal matter.)

    Theoretical work simultaneously also showed that ancient MACHOs are not likely to account for the large amounts of dark matter now thought to be present in the universe.[5] The Big Bang as it is currently understood could not have produced enough baryons and still be consistent with the observed elemental abundances,[6] including the abundance of deuterium.[7] Furthermore, separate observations of baryon acoustic oscillations, both in the cosmic microwave background and large-scale structure of galaxies, set limits on the ratio of baryons to the total amount of matter. These observations show that a large fraction of non-baryonic matter is necessary regardless of the presence or absence of MACHOs.

    (My underlines)
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook