PASADENA, Calif. – Our home planet, as well as other planets in the Solar System, might have “hairs” or long filaments of dark matter, according to a recent study published this week in the Astrophysical Journal by Gary Prézeau of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dark matter is a hypothetical type of matter that cannot be seen with telescopes, as it emits no light nor any other electromagnetic radiation, making up an estimated of 27 percent of all known matter and energy in the universe.

However, scientists have inferred that its properties have certain gravitational effects on visible matter, on radiation and on the entire structure of the universe. In fact, previous research have shown that dark matter can pull other objects through gravitational energy and that it remains always in the same place avoiding contact with light. Studies have also revealed that changes in the dark matter’s densities influence in the stars’ composition, as their ordinary matter directly interacts with dark matter due to gravity.

Image credit: Ralf Kaehler, Oliver Hahn and Tom Abel (KIPAC)/

After the Big Bang, colossal amounts of dark matter formed a web of filaments across the universe, specifically in more than one-quarterall matter and energy, study authors revealed. Gary Prézeau affirmed that particles of dark matter are orbiting the Milky Way in form of very thin streams. “A stream can be much larger than the solar system itself, and there are many different streams crisscrossing our galactic neighborhood”, Prézeau affirmed.

In the paper, he explained that dark matter streams moving across a compact body produces massive dark matter densities along the axis of the stream velocity that goes through the of the body’s midpoint. Prézeau wrote that the findings resulted from using an analytical model of planetary density, as well as numerical simulations provided by the Fast Accurate Integrand Renormalization (FAIR) algorithm, which is a quick geodesics calculator that utilizes realistic planetary density inputs.

As stated by Prézeau, this study can lead to further investigation to collect significant data regarding such an astrophysical mystery like dark matter. He found that the roots of the hairs are located about 600,000 miles away from our planet’s surface, meaning that they are twice as far as the moon. Dark matter particles are most concentrated in the roots and in both extremes of the hair.

These findings are so relevant because they can provide hints to understand the layers of celestial bodies or make significant deductions about the depths of oceans on icy moons.

Source: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory