6 ways the hunt for dark matter changed in 2020

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Perhaps the most confounding problem in astrophysics is dark matter. Vera Rubin discovered it in the 1970s, showing that galaxies spin much faster than the visible matter in them can explain. Now researchers believe dark matter makes up 85% of the mass of the universe, and is largely responsible for giving galaxies their shape. But years have gone by without any major new revelations about dark matter, and the hunt is ongoing. Here are the most important ways the search grew and changed in 2020.

A new way to hunt for dark matter

This is an artist’s illustration of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which detects exoplanets. (Image credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

Dark matter is all around us because we live in the Milky Way’s dark matter halo, but we can’t directly detect it. If it’s influencing us in any way but gravity, it’s probably due to rare interactions between dark matter particles and regular particles. In 2020, writing for Live Science, astrophysicist Paul Sutter wrote that exoplanets near the center of the galaxy, where the halo is thicker, should experience more of those interactions.



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