Cold dark matter

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In cosmology and physics, cold dark matter (CDM) is a hypothetical form of dark matter whose particles moved slowly compared to the speed of light (the cold in CDM) since the universe was approximately one year old (a time when the cosmic particle horizon contained the mass of one typical galaxy); and interact very weakly with ordinary matter and electromagnetic radiation (the dark in CDM). It is believed that approximately 84.54% of matter in the Universe is dark matter, with only a small fraction being the ordinary baryonic matter that composes stars, planets and living organisms.


The theory[clarification needed] was originally published in 1982 by three independent groups of cosmologists; James Peebles at Princeton,[1] J. Richard Bond, Alex Szalay and Michael Turner;[2] and George Blumenthal, H. Pagels and Joel Primack.[3] An influential review article in 1984 by Blumenthal, Sandra Moore Faber, Primack and British scientist Martin Rees developed the details of the theory.[4]

Structure formation[edit]

In the cold dark matter theory, structure grows hierarchically, with small objects collapsing under their self-gravity first and merging in a continuous hierarchy to form larger and more massive objects. In the hot dark matter paradigm, popular in the early 1980s, structure does not form hierarchically (bottom-up), but rather forms by fragmentation (top-down), with the largest superclusters forming first in flat pancake-like sheets and subsequently fragmenting into smaller pieces like our galaxy the Milky Way. Predictions of the cold dark matter paradigm are in general agreement with astronomical observations.

Lambda CDM model[edit]

Main article: Lambda-CDM model

Since the late 1980s or 1990s, most cosmologists favor the cold dark matter theory (specifically the modern Lambda-CDM model) as a description of how the Universe went from a smooth initial state at early times (as shown by the cosmic microwave background radiation) to the lumpy distribution of galaxies and their clusters we see today — the large-scale structure of the Universe. The theory sees the role that dwarf galaxies played as crucial, as they are thought to be natural building blocks that form larger structures, created by small-scale density fluctuations in the early Universe.[5]


Dark matter is detected through its gravitational interactions with ordinary matter and radiation. As such, it is very difficult to determine what the constituents of cold dark matter are. The candidates fall roughly into three categories:

  • Axions are very light particles with a specific type of self-interaction that makes them a suitable CDM candidate.[6][7] Axions have the theoretical advantage that their existence solves the Strong CP problem in QCD, but have not been detected.
  • WIMPs: Dark matter is composed of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles. There is no currently known particle with the required properties, but many extensions of the standard model of particle physics predict such particles. The search for WIMPs involves attempts at direct detection by highly sensitive detectors, as well as attempts at production by particle accelerators. WIMPs are generally regarded as the most promising dark matter candidates.[9][11][13] The DAMA/NaI experiment and its successor DAMA/LIBRA have claimed to directly detect dark matter particles passing through the Earth, but many scientists remain skeptical, as no results from similar experiments seem compatible with the DAMA results.


Several discrepancies between the predictions of the particle cold dark matter paradigm and observations of galaxies and their clustering have arisen:

  • The cuspy halo problem: the density distributions of dark matter halos in cold dark matter simulations are much more peaked than what is observed in galaxies by investigating their rotation curves.[14]
  • The missing satellites problem: cold dark matter simulations predict much larger numbers of small dwarf galaxies than are observed around galaxies like the Milky Way.[15]
  • The disk of satellites problem: dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are observed to be orbiting in thin, planar structures whereas the simulations predict that they should be distributed randomly about their parent galaxies.[16]

Some of these problems have proposed solutions but it remains unclear whether they can be solved without abandoning the CDM paradigm.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peebles, P. J. E. (December 1982). "Large-scale background temperature and mass fluctuations due to scale-invariant primeval perturbations". The Astrophysical Journal. 263: L1. Bibcode:1982ApJ...263L...1P. doi:10.1086/183911. 
  2. ^ "Formation of galaxies in a gravitino-dominated universe". Physical Review Letters. 48: 1636–1639. Bibcode:1982PhRvL..48.1636B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.48.1636. 
  3. ^ Blumenthal, George R.; Pagels, Heinz; Primack, Joel R. (2 September 1982). "Galaxy formation by dissipationless particles heavier than neutrinos". Nature. 299 (5878): 37–38. Bibcode:1982Natur.299...37B. doi:10.1038/299037a0. 
  4. ^ Blumenthal, G. R.; Faber, S. M.; Primack, J. R.; Rees,, M. J. (1984). "Formation of galaxies and large-scale structure with cold dark matter". Nature. 311 (517): 517–525. Bibcode:1984Natur.311..517B. doi:10.1038/311517a0. 
  5. ^ Battinelli, P.; S. Demers (2005-10-06). "The C star population of DDO 190: 1. Introduction" (PDF). Astronomy and Astrophysics. Astronomy & Astrophysics. 447: 1. Bibcode:2006A&A...447..473B. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20052829. Archived from the original on 2005-10-06. Retrieved 2012-08-19. Dwarf galaxies play a crucial role in the CDM scenario for galaxy formation, having been suggested to be the natural building blocks from which larger structures are built up by merging processes. In this scenario dwarf galaxies are formed from small-scale density fluctuations in the primeval Universe. 
  6. ^ e.g. M. Turner (2010). "Axions 2010 Workshop". U. Florida, Gainesville, USA. 
  7. ^ e.g. Pierre Sikivie (2008). "Axion Cosmology". Lect. Notes Phys. 741, 19-50. 
  8. ^ Carr, B. J.; et al. (May 2010). "New cosmological constraints on primordial black holes". Physical Review D. 81 (10): 104019. arXiv:0912.5297free to read. Bibcode:2010PhRvD..81j4019C. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.81.104019. 
  9. ^ a b Peter, A. H. G. (2012). "Dark Matter: A Brief Review". arXiv:1201.3942free to read. 
  10. ^ Bertone, Gianfranco; Hooper, Dan; Silk, Joseph (January 2005). "Particle dark matter: evidence, candidates and constraints". Physics Reports. 405 (5–6): 279–390. arXiv:hep-ph/0404175free to read. Bibcode:2005PhR...405..279B. doi:10.1016/j.physrep.2004.08.031. 
  11. ^ a b Garrett, Katherine; Dūda, Gintaras. "Dark Matter: A Primer". Advances in Astronomy. 2011: 968283. arXiv:1006.2483free to read. Bibcode:2011AdAst2011E...8G. doi:10.1155/2011/968283. . p. 3: "MACHOs can only account for a very small percentage of the nonluminous mass in our galaxy, revealing that most dark matter cannot be strongly concentrated or exist in the form of baryonic astrophysical objects. Although microlensing surveys rule out baryonic objects like brown dwarfs, black holes, and neutron stars in our galactic halo, can other forms of baryonic matter make up the bulk of dark matter? The answer, surprisingly, is no..."
  12. ^ Gianfranco Bertone, "The moment of truth for WIMP dark matter," Nature 468, 389–393 (18 November 2010)
  13. ^ a b Olive, Keith A (2003). "TASI Lectures on Dark Matter". Physics. 54: 21. 
  14. ^ Gentile, G.; P., Salucci (2004). "The cored distribution of dark matter in spiral galaxies". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 351: 903–922. arXiv:astro-ph/0403154free to read. Bibcode:2004MNRAS.351..903G. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2004.07836.x. 
  15. ^ Klypin, Anatoly; Kravtsov, Andrey V.; Valenzuela, Octavio; Prada, Francisco (1999). "Where Are the Missing Galactic Satellites?". ApJ. 522: 82–92. arXiv:astro-ph/9901240free to read. Bibcode:1999ApJ...522...82K. doi:10.1086/307643. 
  16. ^ Marcel Pawlowski et al., "Co-orbiting satellite galaxy structures are still in conflict with the distribution of primordial dwarf galaxies" MNRAS (2014)
  17. ^ Kroupa, P.; Famaey, B.; de Boer, Klaas S.; Dabringhausen, Joerg; Pawlowski, Marcel; Boily, Christian; Jerjen, Helmut; Forbes, Duncan; Hensler, Gerhard (2010). "Local-Group tests of dark-matter Concordance Cosmology: Towards a new paradigm for structure formation". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 523: 32–54. arXiv:1006.1647free to read. Bibcode:2010A&A...523A..32K. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201014892. 

Further reading[edit]