Unlike normal matter, dark matter does not interact with the electromagnetic force. This means it does not absorb, reflect or emit light, making it extremely hard to spot. In fact, researchers have been able to infer the existence of dark matter only from the gravitational effect it seems to have on visible matter. Dark matter seems to outweigh visible matter roughly six to one, making up about 26% of all the matter in the universe. Here’s a sobering fact: The matter we know and that makes up all stars and galaxies only accounts for 4% of the content of the universe! But what is dark matter? One idea is that it could contain “supersymmetric particles” – hypothesized particles that are partners to those already known in the Standard Model. Experiments at theLarge Hadron Collider (LHC) may provide more direct clues about dark matter.
Many theories say the dark matter particles would be light enough to be produced at the LHC. If they were created at the LHC, they would escape through the detectors unnoticed. However, they would carry away energy and momentum, so physicists could infer their existence from the amount of energy and momentum “missing” after a collision. Dark matter candidates arise frequently in theories that suggest physics beyond the Standard Model, such as supersymmetry and extra dimensions. One theory suggests the existence of a “Hidden Valley”, a parallel world made of dark matter having very little in common with matter we know.