Dark Matter Might Clump to Form Planets

By John Wenz | July 14, 2017 1:33 pm

A new theory suggests dark matter could coalesce into massive structures.

A new theory says physics might allow dark matter to form into compact objects, like planets. But don't try to walk on such a world. (Credit: NASA)

A new theory says physics might allow dark matter to form into compact objects, like planets. But don’t try to walk on such a world. (Credit: NASA)

Dark stars may not just be for Grateful Dead fans anymore.

In a new paper uploaded to arXiv, Rutgers University astrophysics professor Matthew R. Buckley puts forth a truly wild hypothesis: It might be possible to build worlds out of dark matter.

But the whole thing came to him from an unusual angle: He wanted to prove that dark matter structures were impossible. In a blog post, Buckley outlined his thinking. He likes sci-fi; he also likes to pick apart bad science. Dark matter planets seemed like an impossibility. But as he delved into the actual math of it, he realized he was wrong.

So what was the initial thinking behind why dark matter couldn’t form a planet? It goes something like this: We have indirect evidence of dark matter but don’t know what it’s made out of. When astronomers map our galaxy and other galaxies, they can take out all known objects and visible gasses and discover invisible structures indicating big clouds of dark matter.

But we know these aren’t normal (aka baryonic) matter. They clump together in a way that suggests that they don’t coalesce neatly like normal matter. According to Buckley, this may be due to a lack of a cooling mechanism. As he writes, normal matter can be slowed down by photons enough to gather together and accumulate. But under typical conditions, dark matter would just have a series of false starts and stay clumpy, diffuse clouds.

“If there is more internal physics for the dark matter, then you can imagine that as the clumps of material start accreting together, you could get some process that releases energy, like fusion does for the baryons,” Buckley says. He and his coauthor, Anthony DiFranzo, didn’t speculate too much on all the internal physics of this. But, they believe “if we want to start making specific predictions for what to look for, we might have to start thinking more about all these different possibilities, since a source of energy in the dark sector will change how dark matter clumps distribute themselves.”

So a mechanism for cooling dark matter might not work on a scale to form whole galaxies or other natural megastructures, but it could, under this model, form smaller objects.

There have been proposals before for stars and other objects that utilize dark matter alongside baryonic matter to produce a weird chymera. But this model would likely be all or mostly dark matter, rather than mostly baryonic with neutralinos inside producing weird behavior.

They suggest that a force of dark electromagnetism could sufficiently cool dark matter to form objects from these halos of dark matter.

The largest possible dark matter objects would be one million times the mass of the sun. That’s as big as the largest intermediate mass black holes or the very smallest supermassive black holes. Dark matter might also form something like a dwarf galaxy or cluster of dark matter objects.

But according to this paper, such large objects and structures — if they exist — may have broken down over time, leaving behind much, much smaller objects.

“The most massive of these objects would end up collapsing to black holes because there would likely not be any internal forces strong enough to arrest that collapse, as there is for the baryons,” Buckley says. “The black holes would be like any other black hole: gravity doesn’t distinguish between dark matter and baryons, so a black hole is the same regardless of the material that goes into it.”

Finding any of these objects could be difficult. Dark matter doesn’t interact much with baryonic matter … and that includes photons, meaning there’s no light source given off. “There is a force like electromagnetism, but it isn’t electromagnetism,” Buckley says. “So you can’t actually see the clump of frozen dark matter gas or planetoid or whatever the dark matter shapes itself into, because it isn’t interacting with light.”

So what would it be like to step on a dark matter planet?

“If you tried to land on the surface, you’d sink right through, since there’s no electrostatic repulsion between your atoms and the dark matter,” Buckley says. “You’d feel the gravity of the object though, so you’d fall in.”

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  • https://llordoftherealm.wordpress.com/ Lord

    So dark em would prevent most dark bodies from forming black holes. I would think this would mean most bodies would have dark matter cores, even though only through gravity.

  • OWilson

    The plot so far.

    We have matter, antimatter and now Dark Matter.

    An infinite number of multiverses.

    Presumably, they all obey, and conform to, Standard Model Physical laws, so we can assume there is nothing really new to us in those higher dimensions that are hidden from us.

    But if other kinds of matter and other multiverses out there have their own particular Physics, then speculation is useless anyway, because everything and anything is possible.

    • Mad Mikey

      We don’t “have” dark matter any more than physicists in the 19th century “had” a luminiferous aether. Dark matter is just a made up term for something that neatly explains what would otherwise have to be confronted as a flaw in another, more established theory. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but physicists are selling it to the lay populace like it’s a known fact, when actually it’s more a meaningless label for something they can’t figure out.

      • OWilson

        Exactly!

      • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

        …1) Big Bang matter and antimatter must exactly cancel (Noether’s theorems coupling exact symmetries and exact conservation laws). However…
        …2) Matter visibly exists in excess of antimatter, hence baryogenesis[1]. Then…
        …3) Sakharov conditions: Vacuum has consequential trace background chiral anisotropy toward hadrons. Measure it.
        …4) Enantiomers (opposite shoes) embed within chiral vacuum background (mount a left foot) with different energies. Extreme atom-bond scale geometrically chiral-divergent test masses vacuum free fall along non-identical minimum action trajectories, violating the Equivalence Principle.
        …5) Test spacetime geometry with geometry[2]. Noether’s theorems couple exact vacuum isotropy with exact angular momentum conservation. Vacuum trace chiral anisotropy leaks 1.2×10^(-10) m/s² Milgrom acceleration[3]. The Tully-Fisher relation universally obtains without dark matter, with baryogenesis’ divergence magnitude.

        [1] DOI:10.1103/RevModPhys.88.015004, arXiv:1505.01076
        [2] www(dot)mazepath(dot)com/uncleal/EquivPrinFail(dot)pdf
        [3] DOI:10.12942/lrr-2012-10, arXiv:1112.3960

      • james barklow

        Well said. Nice to see some intellectual honesty coming out of America for a change. Of course, keep talking like that and you won’t get into National Geographic bub! lol.

      • Oscar Ellis Muñoz Fernandez

        Mad Mikey, yes, you are right

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/ablelawrence Able Lawrence

    All the normal matter that falls in would get trapped and be visible to the observers. Dark matter would manifest itself as gravitational anomalies.

    • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

      Dark matter is not post-Big Bang generated but is progressively scavenged by black holes. The Tully-Fisher relation would be observed different at small vs. large redshifts.

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    If there is more internal physics for the dark matter” 1) Tully-Fisher relation is universally (isotropic and red shift) fit by Milgrom acceleration, that sourced by Sacharov conditions re baryogenesis. No dark matter. 2) Where, within or without the Standard model, is dark matter? 3) If we add another sheaf of unfounded assumptions….

    Dark matter doesn’t interact much with baryonic matter … and that includes photons” Photons are leptons – no quarks or other internal structure, Having no interaction other than gravitation, dark matter cannot be cooled from its Big Bang origin into a densified lump re binding energy emission. Gravitational radiation emission, like proton decay, is an unlimitedly large number of decimal places to the right.

    What would it be like to step on a dark matter planet” One would drown in its BSosphere, coming to rest at its center of mass occupied by arXiv downloads.

    High school algebra afforded quadratic solutions to two-kinds-of-nuts mixing problems. One solution was clearly non-empirical, “ignore it.” NO! That second solution is “more studies are needed.”

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    re: Mad Mikey. Let us testably, on a bench top, end dark matter. Baryogenesis and Milgrom acceleration are of the same magnitude.

    …1) Big Bang matter and antimatter must exactly cancel (Noether’s theorems coupling exact symmetries and exact conservation laws). However…
    …2) Matter visibly exists in excess of antimatter, hence baryogenesis[1], (6.1×10^(-10) bias, hadrons less antihadrons versus photons). Then…
    …3) Sakharov conditions: Vacuum has consequential trace background chiral anisotropy toward hadrons. Measure it.
    …4) Enantiomers (opposite shoes) embed within chiral vacuum background (mount a left foot) with different energies. Extreme atom-bond scale geometrically chiral-divergent test masses vacuum free fall along non-identical minimum action trajectories, violating the Equivalence Principle.
    …5) Test spacetime geometry with geometry[2]. Noether’s theorems couple exact vacuum isotropy with exact angular momentum conservation. Vacuum trace chiral anisotropy leaks 1.2×10^(-10) m/s² Milgrom acceleration[3]. The Tully-Fisher relation universally obtains without dark matter, with baryogenesis’ divergence magnitude.

    [1] DOI:10.1103/RevModPhys.88.015004, arXiv:1505.01076
    [2] www(dot)mazepath(dot)com/uncleal/EquivPrinFail(dot)pdf
    [3] DOI:10.12942/lrr-2012-10, arXiv:1112.3960

  • Kurt Stocklmeir

    I did all the gravity theories a long time ago – there is not any dark matter – all forces get more strong as they travel – they tend to do it for the same reasons – gravity gets more strong as it travels – I am not writing this because I am trying to get people to think it is true – I am trying to protect my theories – people like to try to steal my theories – physics people are extreme dishonest – a lot of physics people are doing con jobs Kurt Stocklmeir

    • Rob H.

      Gravity doesn’t travel.

      • jonathanpulliam

        “As Jupiter moved between Earth and the quasar, the gravitational bending of Jupiter allowed us to measure the speed of gravity, ruling out an infinite speed and determining that the speed of gravity was between 2.55 × 10^8 and 3.81 × 10^8 meters-per-second, completely consistent with Einstein’s predictions”.

  • enantiomer2000

    Dark matter is fractional state hydrogen dubbed hydrino by it’s discoverer Randell Mills. It is all explained in his unified field theory The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics. Check it out.

    • optiongeek

      I came here to say this. Cool.

      Also, wanted to point out the obvious elephant in the room.
      It is now known that the dark matter content of a galaxy is proportional to its age. Therefore, it seems clear that dark matter is a particle in want of a reaction. Solar flares are a reaction in want of a particle. We should look at the connection between dark matter and solar flares before dark matter and planet formation.

      • james barklow

        “It is now known that the dark matter content of a galaxy is proportional to its age.” How can it be ‘known’ if the existence of dark matter is conjectural?

    • james barklow

      If its existence is hypothetical, how could it have been “discovered”? Smells like aether to me lol

      • enantiomer2000

        It was first predicted according to Mills’ theory. It has also been observed in laboratory conditions. When hydrogen transitions to dark matter it releases a large amount of energy. After this time it goes dark and won’t interact with light under normal circumstances.

  • Neil Taylor

    What if dark matter has a negative strong and or weak nuclear force making it like anti quarks that can’t format into matter?

  • 7eggert

    Let’s assume we might have a “backpack” made of dark matter, and let’s assume we’d be heavy enough to make it follow us (maybe because we’re Jupiter or a star).

    How can we tell weather it’s really there?

  • james barklow

    Dark matter is sheer hypothesis and it’s probable that there is no such thing at all

    • OWilson

      Talking about how we could walk on a Dark Matter planet, or what we would “see and feel” if we crossed the event horizon of a Black Hole, reminds me of the old adage about discuussions on how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

      • Jim Mooney

        I imagine we would sink right to the center of a Dark Matter planet since there would be no electromagnetic forces holding us back. A thrilling ride, no doubt but a boring conclusion stuck in the dark center forever.

        • OWilson

          A very versatile “kludge”. (kludges usually are! :)

          No electromagnetic properties, but gravity.

          How does THAT work, again? :)

    • William Holz

      I’m not sure you’re defining ‘probable’ probably.

      What is it that is more probable? What gives you the foundation to believe that it’s not probable other than ‘it’s really weird’?

    • RobbiesDad

      Well, since a guy on the internet says Dark Matter is fake I guess all the scientists with PhDs in astrophysics must be wrong.

      • jonathanpulliam

        “If the shoe fits…”

  • David

    Actually if you landed on the surface, you would not sink through, since we also are made partly of dark matter and that would keep you from falling in. The mythical planet Vulcan is made entirely of dark matter which is why we can not see it.

  • Erik Bosma

    In the fourth paragraph we read: “We have indirect evidence of dark matter but don’t know what it’s made out of.”
    Can anyone see anything wrong with this sentence?
    Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that Earth has a Bozone Layer which protects the rest of the universe from the harmful effects of human beings.

    • OWilson

      Is there actually such a thing as a hole? :)

  • Cranford Ducain

    Then, is he saying that “dark matter” is all the stuff we can’t see because it does not emit light and is to small for us to see the light it may reflect ? This sounds like all the stuff that makes up planets and moons and asteroids anyway. Would all this stuff not produce some gravitational effects, even if we can’t see it ? How many “rocks” the size of a house could you have drifting in any given volumm of space and never see any of them ?

  • Jim Mooney

    There is a new theory that Dark Matter can clump together to form planets – and who knows, evolve life. Since Dark Matter is gravitationally attracted a Dark Matter planet could very well be right where we are standing – an invisible ghost to our own planet.

    This might explain many strange phenomena that are now placed in the realm of the mystical or deluded. Although Dark Matter can’t interact with normal matter, at least not much, my understanding of emergent complexity, such as the life produced by evolution, is that it can “break” such laws, at least seemingly. Rocks fall but birds fly, defying the “law” of gravity.

    • OWilson

      The problem is Dark Matter is invoked precisely for its ability to “interact” with Galaxies, and affect their rotation speeds.

      You can’t be more “interactive” than that! :)

      But as all the smart money here says, it’s just another “kludge” to explain the unexplainable! :)

  • jonathanpulliam

    Dark matter is an illusion due to folded branes. It is analogous to the mirage effect that concealed the Iceberg from Titanic’s look-outs.

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