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Q&A: Dark Matter

Q:
According to the information I've read on quantum/quark theory, matter is being created and destroyed all the time, nearly everywhere, at the quantum level. At any given moment, there must be an immense amount of matter exising that will be gone in the next moment, but new matter will be there to take its place. Statistically, at any given moment, shouldn't an immense amount of matter be in existance at the quantum level? Could this be the dark matter you're looking for?

A:
Dark matter is detected only through its gravitational effects on other matter. Quantum fluctuations can produce matter for a very, very short period of time, the tiniest fraction of a second. The time is so short that even if the quantum fluctuations happened all at the same time and close to the same place, it would not have the strong steady gravitational pull that we observe in (for example) large clusters of galaxies whose visible matter could not possibly hold the cluster together (thus the postulation of dark matter, something we cannot see but which is having a steady gravitational effect on surrounding masses).

For other questions and answers about dark matter, see this page: http://chandra.harvard.edu/resources/faq/dmatter/dmatter-main.html
and you might find the following field guide to dark matter interesting: http://chandra.harvard.edu/xray_astro/dark_matter.html

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