A new study published by NASA used data gained from computer simulations to propose that the planets of our solar system are covered in "hairs" of dark matter, according to a press release. Approximately 27 percent of all matter and energy in the universe is dark matter, 5 percent is regular matter and the rest is dark energy, a mysterious form of energy that is associated with the acceleration of the universe.
Our current understanding of dark matter points to its form as "fine-grained streams" of particles, all of which travel at the same velocity when they orbit galaxies.
"A stream can be much larger than the solar system itself, and there are many different streams crisscrossing our galactic neighborhood," said Gary Prézeau, author of the study.
However, when these streams of dark matter reach planets such as Earth, Prézeau suggests that the streams focus into a compact filament, or "hair," of dark matter, many of which he believes are protruding from the Earth at this very moment. This process occurs due to the fact that when the dark matter streams pass through Earth, the densest concentrations of dark matter create the "roots" and stream outward until they end at the "tips."
Prézeau believes that by finding the location of these roots we can learn about the formation and existence of dark matter - Charles Lawrence, chief scientist for JPL's astronomy, physics and technology directorate, agrees.
"Dark matter has eluded all attempts at direct detection for over 30 years," said Lawrence. "The roots of dark matter hairs would be an attractive place to look, given how dense they are thought to be."
With data gathered from dark matter hairs, scientists could potentially map of the layers of any kind of planetary body, including the oceans on our solar system's icy moons.