Amazing Kids! Magazine

Dark Matter

By Marc Quinn


Have you ever wondered how galaxies stay together? That is the kind of question scientists have been trying to answer for years. In order to answer that question, we need to know about dark matter. Dark matter takes up a lot of the universe, yet we don’t know what it is—it needs further investigation. The three main concepts of dark matter are the amount of mass it has, how it keeps galaxies together using gravity, and what would it look like on a quantum level.

Mass is a term discovered by Isaac Newton referring to the “stuff” taking up space of objects, now widely used in physics. Dark matter has mass because if dark matter didn’t, it would just float around space. Instead, it sticks to things, and that’s how we know it has a lot of mass. Because of its mass, when dark matter surrounds anything from planets to stars to galaxies, it changes how they move. Dark matter has an effect on almost everything in outer space; it forms around galaxies, stars, and everything else, affecting the way it moves and rotates.

There are four forces of space-time: weak force, strong force, electromagnetism, and gravity. Gravity is everywhere; it is proven to be in space because of black holes. In fact, anything in space has mass, which results in gravity. Dark matter keeps galaxies together; the huge mass of the galaxies causes there to be more gravity through dark matter. Because of all that, gravity can hold almost anything together, so dark matter makes the best “glue.”

Everything and anything is made up of atoms, as is dark matter. Earth is surrounded by dark matter particles, but observing them is a different task. It is hard enough to look at a particle on earth, let alone in space. There is a suggestion that dark matter is structurally different: Atoms inside dark matter are “dark atoms,” not just electrons and protons but something else. The amount of mass dark matter has must be observed on the quantum level.

1979 was notable in the physics community because dark matter was discovered by Vera Rubin and Kent Ford. Since then, dark matter has affected and changed many lives. Many Nobel prizes on dark matter have been presented, and many people have dedicated their lives to its study: No matter what part of physics, from quantum to astro, dark matter is a big deal because it makes up 20 percent of the universe.