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Compact Cosmos

41 40 COSMICMYSTERIES missing matter and other conundra It is to be expected that a universe as diverse as ours may have the odd surprise hidden up its many lightyears long sleeve. One question is why the universe is mainly matter rather than mirrorimage antimatter, as theoretically both are created equally. Nature has a slight bias,which is difficult to explain. Another problem concerns galactic evolution. Primordial gas collapsing under gravity provides a starting point,but does not reveal all the intricacies of the many and varied galaxy types. Fans of the big bang scenario had a shock when analysis of globular clusters showed some venerable stars to be 18 billion years old, seemingly older than the entire universe however this seems smallfry compared to the following headscratchers. Investigations of the motions of stars and galaxies have shown that for the structures to remain glued together, more mass is needed. Apparently a hefty chunk of the universe is invisible. To keep the models on track, theorists invented dark matter, suggesting all manner of dense and exotic particles, massive neutrinos, or miniature black holes. Woven dark matter filaments have been proposed as seeds for the largescale bubbly cosmic fabric opposite top,with galaxies forming on the nodes. Most puzzling of all is that observations of distant supernovae seem to indicate the expansion of the universe is accelerating. Space itself is being pushed apart by a mysterious dark energy. If true,we face the strange prospect of having very little clue as to what the majority of our universe is actually made of.
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