Scientists at CERN announced Wednesday that an instrument aboard the International Space Station may have detected dark matter in space for the first time.
The first scientific results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which has been measuring cosmic rays since May 2011, suggests that dark matter, which has been hypothesized to make up much of the universe, may have been detected for the first time.
Scientists have long believed that dark matter makes up much of the universe, but because it gives off no light, is invisible and difficult to detect. Physicists believe that when dark matter collides, it creates so-called "antimatter" particles that are destroyed when they collide with standard matter particles.
Over the course of 18 months, the instrument detected more than 400,000 "positrons"—the antimatter equivalent of electrons—suggesting that these positrons may have come from dark matter collisions.
It is not entirely understood how dark matter interacts with normal matter, but scientists believe it has an impact on galaxy movement and has gravitational effects on standard matter.
At a meeting discussing the finding in Geneva, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Samuel Ting said that CERN has a "feeling what is happening" but said additional experiments will be necessary to confirm the finding.
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer was in development for more than a decade and cost more than $1.5 billion. It was designed as an international project and receives some funding from NASA.