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Dark matter 'seen for first time'


This Hubble Space Telescope composite image shows a ghostly

LONDON (PTI): For over 80 years, it has eluded the finest minds in science. Now, planetary scientists believe they may have finally caught the first glimpse of dark matter, the mysterious hidden substance accounting for three-quarters of matter in the universe.

No one knows what it is, but physicists came up with the theory of dark matter to explain strange anomalies in the rotational speed and clustering of galaxies. It is believed to have played a central role in the evolution of galaxies and large scale structure of the universe.

Now, after nine years of searching, detectors buried some 2,000 feet underground in Cryogenic Dark Matter Search II (CDMS II) observatory, located half-a-mile underground in the disused Soudan iron mine in Minnesota, registered two "hits" by what could turn out to be dark matter particles.

Both bear the hallmarks of the "weakly interacting massive particles" or "Wimps", one of the most likely dark matter candidates, according to the scientists.

Though two detections, published in the latest edition of the 'science' journal, are not quite enough to clinch the discovery, they believe five detections will be sufficient to confirm the presence of Wimps.

"With one or two events, it's tough. The numbers are too small. Many people believe we are extremely close -- not just us, but other experiments.

"It is expected or certainly hoped that in the next five years or so, someone will see a clear signal," 'The Daily Telegraph' quoted Dr Tarek Saab of University of Florida, one of the physicists working on CDMS II, as saying.

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