Scientists have proposed a new theory that combines some of the most mysterious phenomena in the Universe – black holes, gravitational waves, and axions – to solve one of the most confounding problems in modern physics. And it’s got experts in the field very excited.
The theory, which imagines a Universe filled with colossal ‘gravitational atoms’ that are capable of producing vast clouds of dark matter, predicts that it could be possible to detect entirely new kinds of particles using a giant gravitational wave detector called LIGO.
But what are axions? Well, they’re a bit tricky, because unlike black holes and gravitational waves, we’re not even sure if axions exist – and we’ve been searching for them for the past four decades.
Axions are one of the many candidates that have been proposed for dark matter – a mysterious, invisible substance whose gravity appears to hold our galaxies together, and is predicted to make up 85 percent of all matter in the Universe. They are predicted to weigh around 1 quintillion (a billion billion) times less than an electron, and if we can prove their existence, these super-light particles could solve some major theoretical problems with the standard model of physics.