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New Theory of Secondary Inflation May Explain Dark Matter

A new theory from physicists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, suggests that a secondary inflation period could account for the dark matter that’s believed to exist throughout the universe.

Inflationary cosmology says that as early as 10^35 seconds after the big bang the universe went through a period of exponential growth, in which space-time ballooned out from a very hot and dense point into an ever expanding fabric. Now, a new theory published today in the Physical Review Letters, suggests a shorter secondary inflationary period could account for the amount of dark matter estimated to exist throughout the universe.

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A graphical impression of secondary inflation. Image credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

According to physicists, seconds after the Big Bang the universe was billions of degrees and dark matter particles could run into each other, transferring their energy into standard particles like electrons and quarks. However, as the universe continued to expand and cool, dark matter particles encountered each other far less often, halting the annihilation rate.

To have a universe with the density of dark matter we observe today, researchers suggest a second, milder period of inflation. During this time, perhaps minutes to seconds after the Big Bang, the universe was rapidly increasing in volume while diluting primordial particles – conditions that potentially fixed the amount of dark matter permanently.

“It’s definitely not the standard cosmology, but you have to accept that the universe may not be governed by things in the standard way that we thought,” said lead author Hooman Davoudiasl from the Brookhaven National Laboratory. “But we didn’t need to construct something complicated. We show how a simple model can achieve this short amount of inflation in the early universe and account for the amount of dark matter we believe is out there.”

Scientists have hope that they may be able to find proof of the theory.

“If this secondary inflationary period happened, it could be characterized by energies within the reach of experiments at accelerators such as the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and the Large Hadron Collider,” Davoudiasl said.

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