Most of the energy of a collapsing supernova is radiated in the form of neutrinos, produced when protons and electrons in the nucleus combine to form neutrons. Credit: Naeblys/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Physicists have developed a mathematical model that may shed light on the identity of dark matter, the mysterious substance that far outweighs visible matter in the universe1.

Dark matter is not made of atoms or other known fundamental particles and doesn’t interact with any form of light or electromagnetic radiation, making it difficult to detect.

The new model showed that a non-interacting or sterile neutrino is probably a dark matter particle and contributes to the mass of dark matter.

The physicists, led by Arunansu Sil at the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati, devised the model, which uses a seesaw mechanism to explain the link between dark matter and tiny neutrino mass.

As its name suggests, the seesaw mechanism predicts that there are heavier counterparts of lightweight active neutrinos, abundant particles that stream out of the Sun. The heavier neutrinos, which are thought to have come into existence after the Big Bang, are sterile because they interact with other particles only via gravity.

The team, which included physicists Arghyajit Datta and Rishav Roshan, calculated the mass of the lightest sterile neutrino to be in the range of kilo to mega electron-volts.

They say that the lightest sterile neutrino can be produced from the decay of certain elementary particles, such as W and Z bosons, which carry weak force.

Excluding the lightest sterile neutrino, the model shows that two other sterile neutrinos can be used to explain why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe, the researchers say.