A team of researchers believes that they have found a natural explanation for dark matter and a number of other scientific oddities that have so far defied explanation, but their work hinges on the existence of a new theoretical subatomic particle as well as an entirely new “warped fifth dimension” of the universe.
While the sentence seems like the premise of a brain-bending science fiction tale, it’s actually the takeaway from a recent study that researchers hope can shed light on some longstanding mysteries of science.
The new speculative particle, which remains undiscovered, is a type of fermion – or subatomic particle – that would be able to travel through this new dimension and bind dark matter to the luminous matter that comprises everything visible and physical in the universe, reports Motherboard.
Moreover, the theoretical existence of this particle is consistent with other models on how dark matter behaves. While this all seems far-fetched and appears to the layperson to be a case of physicists bending the rules of the universe to explain their own theory, their research has just been published last month in The European Physical Journal C.
According to the study, “the presence of new physics” can help lift the veil on these processes that are presently enshrouded in mystery by offering a model of the universe with a fifth dimension that these particles can traverse.
The study was authored by theoretical physicists Javier Castellano and Matthias Neubert at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz’s PRISMA+ Cluster of Excellence, along with Adrián Carmona, an Athenea3i fellow at the department of theoretical physics and the cosmos at the University of Granada.
The researchers told Motherboard that this new particle would be capable of interacting with the Higgs Boson, and would be similar to the elementary particle, but would also be too heavy for any of the current-generation particle colliders and accelerators to detect.
However, the existence of the particle and its fifth dimension would represent “a unique window” into the mysteries of dark matter, according to the scientists.
“If this heavy particle exists, it would necessarily connect the visible matter that we know and that we have studied in detail with the constituents of the dark matter, assuming that dark matter is composed out of fundamental fermions, which live in the extra dimension,” one of the physicists explained.
“This is not a far-fetched idea, since we know that ordinary matter is made of fermions and that, if this extra dimension exists, they will very likely propagate into it,” they added.
While actually proving that this hypothetical subatomic particle and the fifth dimension exists remains difficult at the present time, the researchers believe that their study and the model it lays out can help scientists in future studies of cosmology and particle physics.
“This could also eventually lead to an interesting cosmological history of the universe and might lead to the production of gravitational waves,” they added.
“This is an interesting line of research, which we plan to follow in the months ahead.”