New York: This could very well end the suspense over the hypothetical presence of a halo, or ring, surrounding our Earth.
In a major breakthrough, a GPS (Global Positioning System) expert has discovered more grounds to believe that the Earth can indeed be surrounded by an invisible halo of dark matter - the stuff that possesses mass and yet can`t be seen.
After analysing nine months of data collection from global navigation satellite systems, GPS expert Ben Harris of the University of Texas found that his measurement of Earth’s mass came in at between 0.005 and 0.008 percent larger than the “official” mass measurements as quoted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
The mass discrepancy could be the influence of a halo, or ring, of dark matter surrounding the Earth, claimed a new paper published in the New Scientist journal.
According to Harris, to explain his measurements, the invisible planetary dark matter halo would need to straddle the equator and be 191 km thick by 70,000 km wide.
Scientists believe that this presence of dark matter could also explain the `flyby anomaly` - additional mystery boost in the velocity of spacecraft speed as they left the Earth`s atmosphere.
The boost at 13 millimetres/second could be a result of the gravity exerted on the spacecraft by an invisible halo of dark matter, said the study.
Non-baryonic matter, or what is called dark matter, is believed to account for 85 percent of all matter in the universe, but we have yet to directly observe this elusive form of matter, let alone create it in immense particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider, concluded the study.