They suggested searching for dark matter by abnormal changes in the Earth’s orbit. This proposal was made by astronomers from Columbia University – they believe that interactions with clumps of dark matter should lead to sharp changes in the values of some fundamental constants, as well as cause peculiar “jerks” in its motion in orbit. The study is published in the journal European Physical Journal D.
Back in the 1930s, astronomers noticed that galaxies move much faster than they should, based on the observed mass. The calculations showed that in reality they contain much more mass than can be seen with the help of telescopes – this hypothetical invisible material is called “dark matter”.
Since then, astronomers have been trying to determine what particles it consists of. It was believed that matter can consist of dark photons, axions, weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), macroparticles with masses on the scale of a dwarf planet, and even the type of scalar particles older than the Big Bang.
In the new work, astronomers are repelled by the fact that, according to many theories, dark matter should form dense clumps. Scientists have calculated the consequences of such a clot flying through the Earth.
According to calculations, such events in some cases can be accompanied by sharp “jerks” when our planet moves in orbit. For example, if the Earth flies through a flat clot of dark matter with an area of about 10 thousand square kilometers, this will lead to an additional short-term acceleration of its rotation by 0.01 m/s2.
“These calculations were inspired by two things – the ability to use existing facilities, such as LIGO, to conduct such observations, as well as science fiction. I like to read novels that describe how the world would change if the fundamental constants changed dramatically. Therefore, it was very interesting for us to calculate how such changes would manifest themselves in reality”.
Rhys McNelly, lead author of the study