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Is Dark Matter Formed By Cosmic Instability?

[Estimated read time: 3 minutes]
  • A new research shows that the instability in Higgs field could be a sign of dark matter. 
  • The dark matter contains numerous black holes that formed at the initial stage of the universe because of unstable Higgs’ fluctuations.

As per our current understanding, the universe has been changing since Big Bang (13.7 billion years ago), and those changes reflect the behavior of matter and energy present in the universe. You might be familiar with a theorized form of matter called dark matter. It accounts for nearly 80 percent of the mass-energy of matter in the observable universe. And since we can’t see it, it’s even harder to study.

Our universe is not immortal, it’s destroyable, as Higgs field (energy field that is supposed to exist in every part of the universe) is in a metastable state. The standard model Higgs potential creates an instability at large field values, which is known for a very long time.

The new research focuses on limitation of this standard model. The energy-release would be terribly magnificent if the Higgs field reaches to its minimum energy state. The instability of the Higgs field may have a big cosmic impact at the dark matter source.

The study suggests that the dark matter comprises of numerous black holes, which formed at the initial stage of the universe because of unstable Higgs’ fluctuations. Although such black holes, often called primordial black holes, have been theorized in the past, this is the first theory that does not need physics beyond the standard model.

Variations in Higgs field

Dark Matter Formed By Cosmic Instability Photo Credit: Goddard Space Flight Center | NASA

We might be living in a universe that rests in a metastable electroweak vacuum. We have known this for many years, but some recent studies suggest that the Higgs field may have lower energy states.

Now physicists have closely examined the Higgs instability, and discovered that this threatening concept could be responsible for forming dark matter. They’ve demonstrated the Higgs field variations during the initial stage of the universe, known as inflation.

These variations, under specific assumptions, are responsible for forming macroscopic black holes with nearly one quadrillion kilogram of masses. Their density could be proportional to dark matter predictions.

Reference: Phys. Rev. Lett. | doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.121301

What If It’s All True?

If the theory presented here were in fact realized in nature, there would be three relevant scenarios –

  1. The standard model would be completely capable of explaining every aspect of dark matter, all by itself.
    This would have two possible outcomes – the standard model provides a dark matter candidate in the form of primordial black holes, and provides the methodology required to generate the factor responsible for creating primordial black holes during inflation through the quantum fluctuations of the Higgs field.
    Both of these two outcomes (dark matter candidate and primordial black hole methodology) don’t obey the common lore that physics beyond the standard model are required. If this was indeed true, the Higgs fields wouldn’t be only accountable for elementary particles’ masses, but also for the dark matter content in the universe.
  2. The primordial black hole methodology provides an anthropic handle on the Higgs field near criticality. This would be explained as required to get enough dark matter, so that large bodies can evolve in the universe.
  3. The primordial black hole accountable for dark matter would show a significant sign of the presence of an unstable range in the Higgs potential at big field values.

Read: Milky Way Center Hosts Nearly 20,000 Black Holes

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