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‘Dark photons’: another cosmic fudge factor


Published: 18 August 2015 (GMT+10)

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 god7 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.9 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 figure 1 below.

Figure 1. 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.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. Return to text.
  2. Dark energy, wikipedia.org, accessed 18 June 2015. Return to text.
  3. Dark fluid, wikipedia.org, accessed 18 June 2015. Return to text.
  4. Dark flow, wikipedia.org, accessed 18 June 2015. Return to text.
  5. Dark radiation, wikipedia.org, accessed 18 June 2015. Return to text.
  6. Hartnett, J.G., Cosmic storytelling, biblescienceforum.com, 9 April 2015. Return to text.
  7. Hartnett, J.G., Is ‘dark matter’the ‘unknown god’?, Creation 37(2):22-24, 2015. Return to text.
  8. Hartnett, J.G., Big bang beliefs busted, Creation 37(3):48-51, 2015. Return to text.
  9. Hartnett, J.G., Why is Dark Matter everywhere in the cosmos?, creation.com, March 2015. Return to text.
  10. But 85% of all matter in the Universe. Return to text.
  11. Moskowitz, C., 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. Return to text.
  12. Potential signs of ‘interacting’dark matter suggest it is not completely dark after all, phys.org, 14 April 2015. Return to text.
  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. Return to text.
  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. Return to text.
  15. Hartnett, J.G., ‘Cosmology is not even astrophysics’, creation.com, 3 December 2008; creation.com/not-astrophysics. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Chris W.
Jeramiah 37:31 comes to mind .....where God let's us know that the 'Heavens cannot be measured' and the 'Foundations of the Earth cannot be explored'!

Chris Westbrook
Richard L.
If any pastors or theologians reading John Hartnett's article still struggle with it--still feeling some sort of obligation to Big Bang Theory (BBT), still feeling obligation to hold to the 7 (so far) theoretical "dark" entities spawned by BBT's struggle with anomalous data--please first obey the New Testament DISCIPLESHIP COMMAND set in 1 Thess. 5:21: "Test all things [outside-of-bible truth claims]; hold fast what is good". Obedience will unshackle your currently misinformed consciences from (wrong) speculation disguised as felt-obligation-to fact.

Due diligence in this matter is a further reading of John Hartnett and other creationist scientists (Danny Faulkner, Russ Humphreys, etc.) on this matter. You then will quickly discover that hard facts stop well short of the zone in which BBT variants are located. NO closure. NO obligation. We can keep our intellectual honesty and integrity while NOT obliging ourselves to BBT. (Needed obedience to Einstein's field equations of demonstrated General Relativity [GR] or the Carmelian modification of GR allows for a wide variety of cosmological models, not only for the BBT model. The hard facts DON'T directly lead to BBT.)

Likewise, as Dr. Hartnett points out in one of his books, the Carmelian modification of GR roughly predicts observed star-velocity profiles within galaxy rotations, profiles otherwise anomalous and the motivation for seeking "dark X".

After doing this due diligence, dear pastors/theologians--now properly informed in your consciences, now knowing better where the hard facts end and the guesswork begins--you will have ears to hear what Dr. Hartnett is saying in this article. God bless.
John Hartnett
Well said. But let me add something. The general principle should be to use that which we know to be true to construct our models. In my book Starlight Time and the New Physics I showed that using new physics one could avoid several of the modern fudge factors (i.e. dark matter, dark energy and inflation). That in itself does not make the new theory correct. It just highlights that the assumption of the "dark" entities, to make the standard big bang cosmology agree with observations, is fundamentally flawed. But there may be many models that can describe the same observations in the cosmos. And even if they are successful we must be cautious, because they need to be tested, as you rightly say here. And cosmology is different to experimental science, because we cannot test our models like we might in a lab experiment. Hence cosmological descriptions of the past are weak science at best.
Alan S.
I am a virtual ignoramus in this subject so can add nothing of value to the discussion. However I am intrigued by the concept of "unknown unknowns" changing the result and wonder how anyone would know, also what other sorts of unknown are there?
Alvin A.
First, I have no qualms with the possibly endless complexity of God's creation. I think God has, essentially, declared that the mind of Man cannot begin to imagine the full nature of His creation, or Him.
That said, the problem as I see it with the Godless narrative/agenda is that their paradigm proposes an ever-increasingly complex Existence but still absent intelligent design. I compare the seeming diametric opposition therein to the suggestion that new automobiles simply appear on the dealer's show-room floor.
Chuck J.
At the heart of the big bang theory is the dark lord, Satan. We must pray for these physicists to find the light of God which is for all to see. Thank you for your work in keeping us informed.
King T.
Thank you Dr. Hartnett for giving a very simple explanation of what dark matter really is.

One cannot help but play on the words these researchers are using - as you have done in the last sentence.

On seeing the mention of "dark photons" I immediately got the words uttered by Jesus as " If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" from Luke 11:34.

The evolutionists are indeed creating a whole universe of darkness for themselves.

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