One of Stephen Hawking’s most famous theories about dark matter — that this mysterious and invisible substance is made up of primordial black holes — recently suffered a huge blow. That conclusion comes from a massive telescope that captured an image of an entire galaxy in one shot.
The findings don’t completely rule out Stephen Hawking’s famous notion. But they suggest that primordial black holes would have to be truly tiny to explain dark matter.
Dark matter is the name given by physicists to explain a particularly mysterious phenomenon: Everything in the universe moves, orbits and rotates as if there were more mass than we can detect. Explanations for dark matter range from ghostly particles called neutrinos to unknown particles, to new laws of physics. In the 1970s, Stephen Hawking and his colleagues theorized that the Big Bang may have created a large number of relatively small black holes — each about the size of a proton. These tiny, ancient black holes would be difficult to see, yet would exert a large gravitational pull on other objects — the two known properties of dark matter. [The 11 Biggest Unanswered Questions About Dark Matter]