There may be no such thing as ‘dark matter’ after all, new research suggests

For decades, astronomers, physicists and cosmologists have theorised that the universe is filled with an exotic material called “dark matter” that explains the stranger gravitational behaviour of galaxies and galaxy clusters.

Dark matter, according to mathematical models, makes up three-quarters of all the matter in the universe.

But it’s never been seen or fully explained.

And while dark matter has become the prevailing theory to explain one of the bigger mysteries of the universe, some scientists have looked for alternative explanations for why galaxies act the way they do.

Now, an international team of scientists says it has found new evidence that perhaps dark matter doesn’t really exist after all.

In research published in November in the Astrophysical Journal, the scientists report tiny discrepancies in the orbital speeds of distant stars that they think reveals a faint gravitational effect – and one that could put an end to the prevailing ideas of dark matter.

The study suggests an incomplete scientific understanding of gravity is behind what appears to be the gravitational strength of galaxies and galaxy clusters, rather than vast clouds of dark matter.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of NGC 5949 some 44 million light years away. Credit: CNN/NASA

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