Dark matter, otherwise known as "idk matter" around these parts, is pretty freaky. It's the unobservable stuff that makes up a big portion of the Universe, forcing scientists to track it based on the trail it leaves. It's never been detected directly.
According to a new study coming out in Astrophysical Journal, some of those trails might come in the form of "hairy" filaments draped around Earth.
If Earth is indeed wearing a dark matter toupee, it could be great news for astrophysicists.
"If we could pinpoint the location of the root of these hairs, we could potentially send a probe there and get a bonanza of data about dark matter," lead study author Gary Prézeau of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a statement.
Prézeau's calculations suggest that these hairs form when dark matter -- so named because of its negligible interactions with the regular sort of matter or light, or even with other particles of its own ilk -- passes through Earth. Because that happens! Dark matter don't care.
Fine-grained streams of dark matter mixed up with matter matter are crisscrossing through our solar system as we speak. Earth's gravity would bend these streams into dense filaments that Prézeau compares to strands of hair. The densest part of the filament -- the "root," if you will -- would have a black matter density a billion times higher than the original stream.
According to the research, these roots might be as close as 600,000 miles away, with the fine tips of the filaments would reach out about twice as far.
Because these roots would boast such a dense trove of dark matter, locating and studying them could give us one of our best ever chances of detecting the mysterious stuff directly. To add to the excitement, the researchers suggest that dark matter hairs formed by planets may retain signatures of the inner layers they've passed through. If we could learn to read the curl patterns of dark matter hair, we might one day use the strands to unlock the secret inner workings of far-off planets.