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Dark Matter Found? New Study Furthers Stephen Hawking's Predictions About 'Primordial' Black Holes

1 hour 26 minutes ago
Where is dark matter, the invisible masses which must exist to bind galaxies together? Stephen Hawking postulated they could be hiding in "primordial" black holes formed during the big bang, writes CNN. "Now, a new study by researchers with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has brought the theory back into the spotlight, revealing what these primordial black holes were made of and potentially discovering an entirely new type of exotic black hole in the process." Other recent studies have confirmed the validity of Hawking's hypothesis, but the work of [MIT graduate student Elba] Alonso-Monsalve and [study co-author David] Kaiser, a professor of physics and the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science at MIT, goes one step further and looks into exactly what happened when primordial black holes first formed. The study, published June 6 in the journal Physical Review Letters, reveals that these black holes must have appeared in the first quintillionth of a second of the big bang: "That is really early, and a lot earlier than the moment when protons and neutrons, the particles everything is made of, were formed," Alonso-Monsalve said... "You cannot find quarks and gluons alone and free in the universe now, because it is too cold," Alonso-Monsalve added. "But early in the big bang, when it was very hot, they could be found alone and free. So the primordial black holes formed by absorbing free quarks and gluons." Such a formation would make them fundamentally different from the astrophysical black holes that scientists normally observe in the universe, which are the result of collapsing stars. Also, a primordial black hole would be much smaller — only the mass of an asteroid, on average, condensed into the volume of a single atom. But if a sufficient number of these primordial black holes did not evaporate in the early big bang and survived to this day, they could account for all or most dark matter. During the making of the primordial black holes, another type of previously unseen black hole must have formed as a kind of byproduct, according to the study. These would have been even smaller — just the mass of a rhino, condensed into less than the volume of a single proton... "It's inevitable that these even smaller black holes would have also formed, as a byproduct (of primordial black holes' formation)," Alonso-Monsalve said, "but they would not be around today anymore, as they would have evaporated already." However, if they were still around just ten millionths of a second into the big bang, when protons and neutrons formed, they could have left observable signatures by altering the balance between the two particle types. Professer Kaiser told CNN the next generation of gravitational detectors "could catch a glimpse of the small-mass black holes — an exotic state of matter that was an unexpected byproduct of the more mundane black holes that could explain dark matter today." Nico Cappelluti, an assistant professor in the physics department of the University of Miami (who was not involved with the study) confirmed to CNN that "This work is an interesting, viable option for explaining the elusive dark matter."

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