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Solar System In The Path Of Fast Moving 'Dark Matter Hurricane'

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An artist's illustration of Earth surrounded by hairs of dark matter. A study revealed that Earth and the solar system is smack in the middle of a stellar stream, bringing a storm of dark matter. Scientists are trying to detect the presence of dark matter with existing technology.   ( JPL | NASA )

A vast hurricane of dark matter with the speed of 500 kilometers per second is plowing the solar system as of this moment, according to astronomers.

However, humans on Earth need not worry. Its presence will neither harm nor affect activities on the planet.

Hurricane Of Dark Matter

Astronomers first discovered the event while rummaging through the data released by the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite. While studying the locations of trajectories of 2 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, astronomers identified a "stellar stream," the dissolving remains of a large dwarf spheroidal galaxy cannibalized years ago.

While several stellar streams have been detected in the Milky Way Galaxy, this one is unusual because the solar system is right on its path. Astronomers named the group the S1 (stream 1) and it consists of a swarm of stars of similar age and composition. Earth will not directly be hit by these stars, but the stellar stream is also carrying a storm of dark matter.

Detecting Dark Matter

Dark matter has never been observed, but scientists believe that the mysterious stuff makes up about 27 percent of the universe. A small dwarf galaxy like the Fornax, for example, has an estimated dark matter between 10 and 100 times greater than the mass of any of its stars.

While the effects of its passing through the Solar System will not be felt, the event is exciting. The possibility that a great amount of dark matter is flying through the solar system as of this moment is an opportunity to detect it.

There is currently no existing technology that can detect dark matter. Ciaran O'Hare, a theoretical physicist from the University of Zaragoza in Spain, and her team calculated the density and distribution of dark matter coming from the S1 to predict signatures that can be detected on Earth.

They revealed that the Axion Dark Matter Experiment, which could pick up the axions — the incredibly light particles that scientists suspect are the principal component of dark matter. Axions are still hypothetical, but if they do exist, they can be converted to photons which humans can detect and see in the presence of a strong magnetic field.

So far, Axion Dark Matter Experiment and other experiments involving the particle, still have not picked up signatures of axions. However, knowing what to look for would make it easier for scientists to improve technology and, one day, find more information about dark matter.

The study was published in the journal Physical Review D.

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