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Matter, despite being omnipresent here on Earth, is a bit of a mystery. Most of the matter in the Universe comes in the form of dark matter, which doesn't seem to have significant interactions with light or other matter. Meanwhile, the more familiar form of matter shouldn't be here at all. It should have been created in equal amounts to antimatter, allowing the two to annihilate each other following the Big Bang.
Physicists have found a few ways of breaking the matter/antimatter symmetry, but they aren't sufficient to account for matter's vast predominance. So, there are lots of ideas floating around to handle it, and some of them are even testable. One of the more intriguing categories of solution links the two big problems with matter: tying the prevalence of matter to the existence of a specific dark matter particle.
Now, scientists have made some antimatter in a lab and used that to test one of these ideas. The test came up blank, putting limits on the possible link between dark matter and antimatter's absence.
For many years, research has focused on a class of potential dark matter particles called WIMPs, for weakly interacting massive particles. These heavy, relatively slow-moving particles are the best fits for the properties of dark matter inferred from the behavior of our Universe. But searches for WIMPs—including those conducted at the Large Hadron Collider as well as dedicated detectors—have all failed to find them. This has caused many researchers to start considering alternatives to WIMPs when it comes to dark matter.
One of those alternatives is the axion, a particle first proposed as a way of solving problems in an unrelated area of physics called quantum chromodynamics. Axions would be lighter than WIMPs but still present in large enough numbers to account for dark matter without the need for additional particles. Because their properties have already been defined by their role in quantum chromodynamics, there are a lot of ideas to test for the axion's existence. Some of those tests are currently in progress.
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