Astronomers create new technique to assist in search for dark matter
Radar detection of atmospheric ionization from meteors (and DM) for a simplified antenna setup. Here θ is the zenith angle, h the altitude, and ~z the incoming trajectory. Head-echo radar systems detect the roughly spherical ionization front around the moving object, while trail-echo radar systems detect its ionization trail. The red gradient shows a Gaussian electron density profile, which determines the type of scattering (underdense if radio waves penetrate the ionization profile, and overdense otherwise). Credit: Pawan Dhakal et al

Dark matter can only be seen by the effect it has on the natural world.

Dark matter makes up 85% of the total mass of the universe and 25% of the universe's total mass and energy. Scientists use telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope to observe dark matter because humans can't see it.

Researchers at The Ohio State University found that radar systems on the ground could be used to aid the search.

The goal of the new research is to improve the search for dark matter by helping to characterize it.

The particles are so large that dark matter is difficult to detect. The particles are rare if the dark-matter mass is large.

Dark matter can be seen by its effects on other stars and black holes.

Taking the time to learn more about dark matter allows scientists to understand the size, shape and future of the universe. The mass of these particles can have a huge effect on the formation and structure of the universe.

The research is available for free on arXiv.

The research is so novel because it uses the same technology that is used to track meteorites. When meteorites and dark matter particles pass through Earth's atmosphere, they leave behind a form of radiation that can be used to conduct electricity. When radar waves bounce off free electrons, they signal the presence of dark matter, which can be seen as meteorites. The planet's atmosphere can be turned into a large-scale particle detector.

Although scientists have used this method of meteor hunting for a long time, they have never applied these systems to the search for dark matter.

One of the study's most significant conclusions is how the team's new method could complement other searches for dark matter, as their system offers a level of accuracy and sensitivity that other techniques don't.

Current cosmology techniques are sensitive but don't have a way to check their own work. If scientists are unsure about what they've detected, they can use the radar technique to check it out.

The co- authors were from Ohio State and the University of Colorado Boulder.