from c|net

Scientists predict a ‘dark matter hurricane’ will collide with the Earth

Yes, here’s the story of the dark matter hurricane — a cosmic event that may provide our first glimpse of the mysterious, invisible particle.


25th-gallery-240.jpgSpace Telescope Science Institut, NASA, ESA, the Hubble SM4 ERO Team, and ST-ECF

Don’t panic.

Yes, astronomers suggest it’s very likely a “dark matter hurricane” will slam into the Earth as it speeds through the Milky Way — but it shouldn’t cause any damage. In fact, in the hunt for the mysterious particle (or particles) that makes up dark matter, the “hurricane” may provide our best chance at detection.

Throughout the Milky Way there are a number of stellar streams, gatherings of stars that were once dwarf galaxies or clusters. In ancient history they collided with the Milky Way and were torn apart — leaving a stream of orbiting stars that circle the galactic centre. One such stellar stream, dubbed S1 and discovered last year by scientists examining data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, passes directly through the path of our sun.

As our solar system speeds through the outer reaches of the Milky Way, it flies through dark matter at around 230 kilometres per second ( around 143 miles per second). A study, published Nov. 7 and led by researchers at the University of Zaragoza, suggests that the dark matter present in the stream may be travelling at double that speed — roughly 500km/s (around 310 miles per second) — giving us a much better chance at detecting dark matter.

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