Wormholes are the stuff of science fiction, with theorists describing them as a tunnel through space-time which could connect two distant points in the universe. They have formed the basis for tales of travelling unimaginable distances.
Dark matter is one of the most elusive components of our universe, with scientists trying to find physical evidence of it to match our mathematical models of space. While we have been so far unable to see it or measure it directly, physicists believe the enigmatic material fills in the gaps in the universe, while matter makes up the 'stuff', like planets and stars. But a new paper has suggested that adding a sprinkling of dark matter to a supermassive black hole could result in one of the strangest objects in the universe - a wormhole.
Physicists believe supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies could create the right conditions for forming wormholes. Jets of radiation escaping from the centre of the black hole result in helical magnetic fields. If a type of theoretical dark matter, made up of particles called axions, is caught up in this magnetic swirl its properties can change, effectively having negative density. Dr Dimopoulos from the University of Lancaster explained that when condensed within the churning centre of a galaxy, these elements could combine to create a wormhole - which could enable material to pass through.
But the physicist added that a supermassive black hole switching to a stable wormhole would likely have profound implications on the way in which galaxies form and how they act.
The European Space Agency said: 'Shine a torch in a completely dark room, and you will see only what the torch illuminates. That does not mean that the room around you does not exist. Similarly we know dark matter exists but have never observed it directly.'
What's more, the wormhole would be a point at which space-time was infinitely curved, due to the singularity of the supermassive black hole. Offering tantalising insight into the theoretical potential for such stable objects in the universe, Dr Dimopoulos wrote: 'If dark matter is axionic, one can imagine that an advanced civilisation may generate artificially a helical magnetic field, with the appropriate characteristics to alter the nature of the local dark matter and maybe to give rise to a wormhole. This might become a way to realise interstellar travel and/or time travel.'