Was dark matter created with the Big Bang?

29 September 2015

Question

If all matter in the Universe is only 4% of the total mass, is there any evidence to prove that the other 96% comprising of Dark Matter/Dark Energy was created in the Big Bang? Is it not possible that Dark Energy/Dark Matter already existed, and the Universe of Matter was created within Dark Energy/Dark Matter? It is possible that Dark Energy/Dark Matter acted as a Catalyst for the Creation of the Universe we see?

Answer

David put his brain bending question to cosmologist Andrew Pontzen... Andrew - It's a really hard question to answer for absolute certain because of course, we don't really know as we we're saying early on what dark matter and certainly, what dark energy is. The standard picture would be that certainly, dark matter was created in the first moments of our universe, what's commonly referred to as The Big Bang, alongside everything else that's more familiar to us. So, it couldn't have been in any way responsible for the creation of the universe because it was itself created. That I think is something that most cosmologist would subscribe to. When you start asking about dark energy, of course, it gets a lot more complicated because we're so in the dark about what it is. If you look at things like string theory, which are these kind of very speculative ideas about how the universe might be put together then there can exist things beyond our own universe and dark energy can be some kind of phenomenon that is related to stuff beyond our own universe. And so, once you have that, you could start to say, well maybe this idea of something like dark energy, maybe it is something that is outside our own universe that in some sense, you can say, exists independently of our universe or perhaps existed even before our universe was created.

Kat - It's really quite brain bending - do we have any evidence that The Big Bang was the start of the universe?

Andrew - Well, we certainly have very strong evidence that The Big Bang got things going. We have very strong evidence that the universe is expanding today. Wind it back and the universe must have been very small in the past. But what we don't know is, whether there was actually a moment of creation. We can track it all the way back to the tiniest fraction of a second but we don't know, does that mean there was a moment of creation or perhaps something very, very different kicks in at that point. We just don't know.

Kat - Do you think we will ever know?

Andrew - Yes, I think we will get better at this stuff.

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