Astronomers at last looked hard for dark matter in our own Galaxy. Surprise! They didn’t find it. Every current theory says that the Milky Way should have its own halo of dark matter, like every other large object in the sky. But the Milky Way has no dark matter. Maybe the “astronomical community” should admit that dark matter does not exist.
Dark matter, dark energy, and the Big Bang
Sometimes astronomers see large objects spinning faster than they should, at least for the mass that the astronomers can see. Astronomers calculate two kinds of mass for a galaxy or a larger object:
- Luminous mass gives off light (or ultra-violet light, X rays, etc.) that humans can see with a telescope or other sensor.
- Dynamical mass pulls on other objects with gravity and makes them spin faster when in orbit.
On earth, and in our solar system, luminous and dynamical masses are the same. But in many objects beyond our galaxy, dynamical mass is more than luminous mass. Astronomers call the difference dark matter. Jan Oort (of “comet cloud” fame) first suspected that our own galaxy had twice as much dynamical mass as luminous mass. Fritz Zwicky looked at the Coma supercluster and decided that it had ten times as much dynamical mass as luminous mass.
Astronomers coined the phrase dark matter to explain the discrepancy. Conventional astronomers now guess that the universe has four times as much dark matter as normal “light matter.” (Astronomers speak of still another intriguing concept, dark energy, to explain why the universe seems to expand faster, as if something is pushing it apart and acting against gravity, which ought to pull it in.)
Thus astronomers have suspected since the 1930s that even our own galaxy has more “stuff” in it than they can see, and other galaxies (and larger objects) have even more. According to current theory, every galaxy and larger object has its own ration of dark matter. This matter arranges itself in a halo around the center of the object.
The European Southern Observatory operates several ground-based telescopes in South America. Recently they decided to measure how stars move as accurately as they could. Surely, they thought, they could find how much dark matter lies close to our solar system. Our sun stays at least 27,600 light years from the center of the galaxy. So we should be near enough to the halo to see the effects of dark matter close-up. So the ESO decided to have a look. What they found, or rather what they did not find, shocked them.
Where is the dark matter?
The ESO’s press release two days ago expressed that shock. Dr. Christian Moni Bidin (Department of Astronomy, University of Concepción, Chile) said:
The amount of mass that we derive matches very well with what we see — stars, dust and gas — in the region around the Sun. But this leaves no room for the extra material — dark matter — that we were expecting. Our calculations show that it should have shown up very clearly in our measurements. But it was just not there!
This, says Walt Brown of the Center for Scientific Creation, should have surprised no one. In an interview with CNAV, he asked:
Why did they think they would see dark matter from a ground-based telescope, looking at a region around the Sun?…That much dark matter, that close to our Sun, should have affected the motions of the planets and asteroids. And as you know, it does not.
And if it had, astronomers might never have suspected anything like dark matter. They define luminous mass by looking at the Sun, planets and moons, measuring the light they give off or reflect, and assuming that dynamical and luminous masses are the same in our solar system.
The ESO paper gives the details. By looking at how fast our galaxy spins around its center, among other things, they guessed that they should detect at least 0.005 earth mass, and as much as 0.013 earth mass, per cubic parsec. Instead they found: zero, with a tolerance of 0.001 earth mass per cubic parsec. That is four standard deviations lower than what they expect, so the “null hypothesis” (the guess that they “just missed it”) cannot be correct.
The ESO lamented, in effect, “How can we possibly find dark matter ‘particles’ here on earth, when we can’t even find the dark matter that we’re supposed to see in the solar neighborhood?” But they realized something else: they cannot explain why our galaxy spins as fast as it does.
Despite the new results, the Milky Way certainly rotates much faster than the visible matter alone can account for. So, if dark matter is not present where we expected it, a new solution for the missing mass problem must be found. Our results contradict the currently accepted models. The mystery of dark matter has just become even more mysterious.
In fact, this need not be a deep, dark secret.
Dark matter as fudge factor
The first-ever “dark matter” object was a planet called Vulcan, after the god of fire on Mount Olympus. (This is not the same as the fictitious desert world in the 40 Eridani system where a race of point-eared people almost destroyed themselves before deciding that such behavior would be “illogical.”) No astronomer saw this object. Instead, they saw that the planet Mercury moved faster in its orbit, by 43 arc-seconds per century. So astronomers assumed that something was inside the orbit of Mercury, something that, absurdly, kept station on the far side of the Sun from earth. Then in 1915, Albert Einstein solved the mystery. The Sun seems heavier from the point of view of Mercury than it does on earth. The extra weight explains the faster orbit. No object, other than the Sun, sits inside Mercury’s orbit. (And when the Mariner 10 and MESSENGER probes flew by Mercury, they did not see “Vulcan” or any innermost asteroid belt.)
Astronomers should have learned their lesson from the Vulcan affair. They did not. If an object defies physics, by revolving around another object faster than it should, then the physics is wrong, or at least incomplete. Einstein showed this in 1915. And more recently, John G. Hartnett showed the same. In 2006, he proposed a new equation to say how fast a large object should spin. By this equation, the spin rate goes up with the fourth root of mass, not the square root as Sir Isaac Newton originally proposed. This is the Tully-Fisher relation between spin rate and luminous mass, with a hard theoretical basis. And according to this model, dynamical and luminous masses are always the same. So while every other astronomer runs around looking for dark matter, men like Brown and Hartnett could tell them to stop looking. All matter is “light”; none is “dark.”
To get that model, he threw out the Big Bang model. He began with a new model of a universe that expands in direct proportion to the distance from a center. That model is consistent, not with a Big Bang, but a Big Stretch soon after the universe came to be. The problem that the astronomical community has with Hartnett’s model is philosophical. The Bible attests to that “Big Stretch.” (According to Brown, the Old Testament speaks of God “stretching the heavens” eleven times.) Worse yet, Hartnett’s “cosmological relativity” shows that the universe cannot be much older than six thousand years.
Conventional astronomers, in short, make a problem for themselves because they keep trying to avoid God. This week they have rushed into a blind alley. How will they explain “dark matter” that has no local effect on nearby stars, though it keeps our galaxy spinning faster? They plan to launch another rocket probe to find more evidence. What will they do when that probe can’t help them, either?
- Creation Day Four: The Big Stretch
- Creation Day Four: Age of the Universe
- Accelerating universe: retrospective
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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