‘Dark photons’: another cosmic fudge factor

First it was dark matter,1 then came dark energy,2 followed by dark fluid,3 dark flow,4 and dark radiation5; and now a new entity is suggested for the dark sector of particle physics—dark photons. The dark sector is full of hypothetical entities designed to save the big bang story but it is really just a lot of cosmic storytelling.6

Previously I have argued that dark matter is a sort of ‘god of the gaps’, the ‘unknown god’,7  in astrophysics. It is an unknown invoked to explain the inexplicable,8 which, if you follow the chain of logic, is required to maintain a belief in the big bang paradigm. Its existence is only inferred from the application of known physics to certain observations in the universe.Without assuming the existence of some exotic unknown dark matter comprising about 25% of the matter/energy content of the universe10 the standard big bang model would have to be discarded as a total failure.

Dark matter has never been observed in space or in any laboratory experiment.

Colliding galaxies

Now a new observation of four colliding galaxies in the Abell 3827 cluster apparently may shed new light on the conundrum.11 See the four galaxies in the centre of the figure here.

Abell 3827

Figure: Approximately real-colour image from the Hubble Space Telescope, of galaxy cluster Abell 3827. The galaxy cluster is made of hundreds of yellowish galaxies. At its core, four giant galaxies are smashing into each other. As the topmost of the four galaxies fell in, it is proposed that it left its dark matter trailing behind, separated from the normal matter. You can’t see the dark matter in this picture because it is ‘dark’; meaning invisible. But its position is allegedly revealed by the gravitational lensing of an unrelated spiral galaxy behind the cluster, whose distorted image is seen as a blue arc, around the group of four central galaxies. Credit: Dr. Richard Massey (Durham University) image. Ref. 12.

With the aid of the theoretically modelled effects of what you expect to observe from the phenomenon known as gravitational lensing (i.e. the bending of light as it passes near massive objects, in this case galaxies) a new claim is made:

“Observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope in Chile revealed that the dark matter surrounding at least one of the galaxies significantly lagged behind the ordinary matter there, suggesting dark matter particles were interacting with one another and slowing themselves down—a phenomenon never seen before.”11

The idea is that the collision of the galaxies separates the normal matter from the dark matter due to the interaction of the galaxies. And because the dark matter, which is not observable, is separated from the normal matter, which is observable, the dark matter affects the bending of light from the cluster differently to the case if no dark matter was involved.

Of course several important assumptions are being made here. The most important two: 1) that gravitational lensing effects are what is being observed, without any independent method of verification, and, 2) the exotic dark matter exists, even though it cannot be seen. But this could all be completely wrong. However, astrophysicists believe that because their model for gravitational lensing is based on Einstein’s General Relativity, and that that theory has been well-tested elsewhere13 then it should be reliable here too.14

The new observations have led astronomers to propose that these unknown dark matter ‘particles’ have another property, in addition to being influenced by gravity and not electromagnetic radiation (light, etc.), and that is that they can interact with each other. One suggested that an exchange of dark photons’ may create the force needed, in an analogous way to how photons are the force carriers of electromagnetic radiation. The latter might be manifested as two positively charged particles approach each other, each exchanging photons and momentum with the other causing them to repel each other. In a similar way, it is now suggested that dark matter particles might exchange ‘dark photons.’

But since the observations have only shown the possible effect in one galaxy (no others ever anywhere else) one researcher admitted that they may not have thought of everything. He said:11

“There are unknown unknowns that may be changing the result.”

Translation: “Our interpretation of the observational evidence might be totally wrong.”

A separate survey, the results from which were published in the journal Science in March 2015, analyzed 72 collisions of galaxy clusters rather than individual galaxies, in contrast to this new report. In that survey no evidence of self-interacting dark matter was observed. Remember the dark matter itself is never observed, only inferred from computer simulations which model where the unseen stuff should be.  But, it is claimed that since galaxy clusters collide faster than individual galaxies, there is less time for dark matter to interact and drag behind, so the earlier survey results do not necessarily contradict the newer one.

Meanwhile, back on earth, searches for dark sector particles in underground detectors continue to come up empty, and dark matter has so far failed to appear in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. In fact, proposed candidates are being rapidly excluded. Over 40 years now many major experiments have looked for evidence of the dark sector and none has been found.


Could it be that all we observe with light and other forms of radiation is all there is? The Universe did not evolve out of a big bang and as a result the model which attempts to describe the expansion needs fudge factors to get it to fit observations. Now, one more fudge factor is proposed—dark photons from interacting dark matter particles. A new unknown invoked to explain an unknown.15 But they are still all lost in Darkness.

References and Notes

  1. Dark matter, wikipedia.org, accessed 18 June 2015
  2. Dark energy, wikipedia.org, accessed 18 June 2015.
  3. Dark fluid, wikipedia.org, accessed 18 June 2015.
  4. Dark flow, wikipedia.org, accessed 18 June 2015.
  5. Dark radiation, wikipedia.org, accessed 18 June 2015.
  6. J.G. Hartnett, Cosmic storytelling, 9 April 2015.
  7. J.G. Hartnett, Is ‘dark matter’ the ‘unknown god’?, Creation 37(2):22-24, 2015.
  8. J.G. Hartnett, Big bang beliefs busted, Creation 37(3):48-51, 2015.
  9. J.G. Hartnett, Why is Dark Matter everywhere in the cosmos? 31 March 2015.
  10. But 85% of all matter in the Universe.
  11. C. Moskowitz, Dark Matter Particles Interact with Themselves, scientificamerican.com, 19 May 2015; originally published as Dark Matter Drops a Clue, Scientific American 312(6):15-17 | doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0615-15, 19 May 2015.
  12. Potential signs of ‘interacting’ dark matter suggest it is not completely dark after all, phys.org, 14 April 2015.
  13. The Hulse-Taylor binary pulsar test of GR via orbit spin-down making close agreement with that expected with energy being lost by gravitational radiation.
  14. However, it must be remembered that, prior to the formulation of Einstein’s General Relativity, Newton’s formulation of gravity had been well-tested but could not explain the anomalous precession of the orbit of Mercury. To do so, scientists introduced an unobserved and unobservable planet that had just the right properties and motion to account for the unexplained motion of Mercury. Einstein’s equations provided an explanation without the need for this ‘dark matter’ planet.  Perhaps what is needed here also is not  more ‘dark matter’ but different physics.
  15. J.G. Hartnett, ‘Cosmology is not even astrophysics’, creation.com, 3 December 2008; Big bang fudge factors.

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4 thoughts on “‘Dark photons’: another cosmic fudge factor

  1. Quite nice post I must say! I myself wrote about Dark Matter in my blog, [which the author has now deleted] and it is indeed a peculiar and mysterious topic. Never heard, however, about dark photons. For that I must say thank you for sharing this interesting piece of information! I see you too seem to work on linking faith and science. I too try to do that. In fact, really go take a look at my blog, it has some of the most amazing God’s creations: Space Beauties! Cheers, best wishes for your blog.
    Sincerely, Gonçalo.


  2. A Fox News item today (8/17/15) states: “Scientists say they have found rare evidence of a prehistoric massacre in Europe after discovering a 7,000-year-old mass grave with skeletal remains from some of the continent’s first farmers…”
    Your article contains this quote: “Observations made with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope in Chile revealed that the dark matter surrounding at least one of the galaxies significantly lagged behind the ordinary matter there, suggesting dark matter particles were interacting with one another and slowing themselves down—a phenomenon never seen before.”
    The general public who reads these kinds of things is left with the intellectual perspective that the highly intelligent people composing these statements are simply stating facts, truth, reality. The European farmers were busy farming before the creation sequence in Genesis chapter 1. The two prestigious telescopes revealed, exposed, put out in the open, the dark matter. There is no hint that the dark matter is not really there or that it is a theoretical fudge factor of unproven existence.
    My brother, on his 500 acre tree farm, found a fossil in strata that dates the fossil at 150,000 to 250,000 years old as per the printed and copyrighted documents and charts he used. Distant family relatives from the University of Texas in Austin are degreed experts who confirm these kinds of findings.
    I think Genesis is right and that all these other assured statements of “fact” are wrong, but almost nobody that I know, even members in my church, would agree with me. Very smart, highly educated, rigorously studied experts, and their publications, have made their pronouncements. Case closed, and I don’t know how to make an appeal that will be heard. Making an appeal to Genesis…………………….gets me nowhere, even with Christians.


    • John, It is a sad day that appealing to the words of the Living God gets you nowhere with ‘Christians’. I experience that quite often. In fact, many times I don’t get the feeling that the person(s) I am talking to are even brothers in the Lord. But there are many brothers and sisters in the Lord who are sincerely misled and we should not give up or be disheartened but press on and trust that the Holy Spirit can get through to them.


    • You said,”found a fossil in strata that dates the fossil to 150,000 to 250,000 years old”

      The problem with that is that the fossil wasn’t dated, the strata was. It would be more interesting if the fossil was carbon or potassium argon dated. As we are seeing in recent science, many fossils are turning out to have organic matter inside. Secular scientists, however, refuse to let these organic parts to be carbon dated, sad really. Because if the carbon was found intact, the fossil must be under 50,000 years old. Also, the bones appear to not be contaminated.


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