Ultimately, I am confident that dark matter phenomena will be explained entirely as a gravitational effect.
Quite possibly, simply correctly considering standard general relativity effects beyond Newtonian gravity is all that is required. The alternative is that the correct theory of gravity is a gravitational theory very similar to standard general relativity, that is almost indistinguishable in strong gravitational field settings, but differs from it in some subtle respect that is primarily observable only in weak fields as a lower order effect.
Many researchers have explored this idea and tentatively shown that it is feasible in the last decade and a half or so, although most of them are outsiders of the astronomy and general relativity research specialty, their papers have not received a lot of attention from leading specialists in this field, their approaches are somewhat varied (and it isn't clear if they are consistent with each other despite all matching the same observational data), and they have not gelled to form an interacting community of scholars taking on a common project in a collective manner that allows their contributions to be rigorously vetted and refined. Some of the more notable papers along this line are collected below.
One of the latest of these papers, published in a peer reviewed academic journal, is G.O. Ludwig, a Brazilian physicist whose background in primarily in the design of nuclear fusion reactors, in the article below, makes a convincing argument that dark matter phenomena are a result of non-Newtonian aspects of general relativity that conventional modeling of galactic dynamics neglects. Ludwig's paper and its abstract are as follows:
Historically, the existence of dark matter has been postulated to resolve discrepancies between astrophysical observations and accepted theories of gravity. In particular, the measured rotation curve of galaxies provided much experimental support to the dark matter concept. However, most theories used to explain the rotation curve have been restricted to the Newtonian potential framework, disregarding the general relativistic corrections associated with mass currents. In this paper it is shown that the gravitomagnetic field produced by the currents modifies the galactic rotation curve, notably at large distances. The coupling between the Newtonian potential and the gravitomagnetic flux function results in a nonlinear differential equation that relates the rotation velocity to the mass density. The solution of this equation reproduces the galactic rotation curve without recourse to obscure dark matter components, as exemplified by three characteristic cases. A bi-dimensional model is developed that allows to estimate the total mass, the central mass density, and the overall shape of the galaxies, while fitting the measured luminosity and rotation curves. The effects attributed to dark matter can be simply explained by the gravitomagnetic field produced by the mass currents.
This is similar to the approach of Deur (whose work I have advocated at this blog in the past):
Our present understanding of the universe requires the existence of dark matter and dark energy. We describe here a natural mechanism that could make exotic dark matter and possibly dark energy unnecessary. Graviton-graviton interactions increase the gravitational binding of matter. This increase, for large massive systems such as galaxies, may be large enough to make exotic dark matter superfluous. Within a weak field approximation we compute the effect on the rotation curves of galaxies and find the correct magnitude and distribution without need for arbitrary parameters or additional exotic particles. The Tully-Fisher relation also emerges naturally from this framework. The computations are further applied to galaxy clusters.
We consider the consequences of applying general relativity to the description of the dynamics of a galaxy, given the observed flattened rotation curves. The galaxy is modeled as a stationary axially symmetric pressure-free fluid. In spite of the weak gravitational field and the non-relativistic source velocities, the mathematical system is still seen to be non-linear. It is shown that the rotation curves for various galaxies as examples are consistent with the mass density distributions of the visible matter within essentially flattened disks. This obviates the need for a massive halo of exotic dark matter. We determine that the mass density for the luminous threshold as tracked in the radial direction is 10^−21.75 kg⋅m^−3 for these galaxies and conjecture that this will be the case for other galaxies yet to be analyzed. We present a velocity dispersion test to determine the extent, if of any significance, of matter that may lie beyond the visible/HI region. Various comments and criticisms from colleagues are addressed.
Exact stationary axially symmetric solutions to the four-dimensional Einstein equations with corotating pressureless perfect fluid sources are studied. A particular solution with an approximately flat rotation curve is discussed in some detail. We find that simple Newtonian arguments overestimate the amount of matter needed to explain such curves by more than 30%. The crucial insight gained by this model is that the Newtonian approximation breaks down in an extended rotating region, even though it is valid locally everywhere. No conflict with solar system tests arises.
Flat rotation curves (RCs) in disc galaxies provide the main observational support to the hypothesis of surrounding dark matter (DM). Despite of the difficulty in identifying the DM contribution to the total mass density in our Galaxy, stellar kinematics, as tracer of gravitational potential, is the most reliable observable for gauging different matter components. From the Gaia second data release catalogue, we extracted parallaxes, proper motions, and line-of-sight velocities of unprecedented accuracy for a carefully selected sample of disc stars. This is the angular momentum supported population of the Milky Way (MW) that better traces its observed RC.
We fitted such data to both a classical, i.e. including a DM halo, velocity profile model, and a general relativistic one derived from a stationary axisymmetric galaxy-scale metric. The general relativistic MW RC results statistically indistinguishable from its state-of-the-art DM analogue. This supports the ansatz that a weak gravitational contribution due to the off-diagonal term of the metric, by explaining the observed flatness of MW’s RC, could fill the gap in a baryons-only MW, thus rendering the Newtonian-origin DM a general relativity-like effect. In the context of Local Cosmology, our findings are suggestive of the Galaxy’s phase space as the exterior gravitational field in equilibrium far from a Kerr-like inner source, possibly with no need for extra matter to account for the disc kinematics.
In Newtonian gravity, mass is an intrinsic property of matter while in general relativity (GR), mass is a contextual property of matter, i.e., matter can simultaneously possess two different values of mass when it is responsible for two different spatiotemporal geometries. Herein, we explore the possibility that the astrophysical missing mass attributed to non-baryonic dark matter (DM) actually obtains because we have been assuming the Newtonian view of mass rather than the GR view. Since an exact GR solution for realistic astrophysical situations is not feasible, we explore GR-motivated ansatzes relating proper mass and dynamic mass for one and the same baryonic matter, as justified by GR contextuality. We consider four GR alternatives and find that the GR ansatz motivated by metric perturbation theory works well in fitting galactic rotation curves (THINGS data), the mass profiles of X-ray clusters (ROSAT and ASCA data) and the angular power spectrum of the cosmic microwave background (CMB, Planck 2015 data) without DM. We compare our galactic rotation curve fits to modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND), Burkett halo DM and Navarro-Frenk-White (NFW) halo DM. We compare our X-ray cluster mass profile fits to metric skew-tensor gravity (MSTG) and core-modified NFW DM. We compare our CMB angular power spectrum fit to scalar-tensor-vector gravity (STVG) and ΛCDM. Overall, we find our fits to be comparable to those of MOND, MSTG, STVG, ΛCDM, Burkett, and NFW. We present and discuss correlations and trends for the best fit values of our fitting parameters. For the most part, the correlations are consistent with well-established results at all scales, which is perhaps surprising given the simple functional form of the GR ansatz.
We push ahead the idea developed in , that some fraction of the dark matter and the dark energy can be explained as a relativistic effect. The inhomogeneity matter generates gravitational distortions, which are general relativistically retarded. These combine in a magnification effect since the past matter density, which generated the distortion we feel now, is greater than the present one. The non negligible effect on the averaged expansion of the universe contributes both to the estimations of the dark matter and to the dark energy, so that the parameters of the Cosmological Standard Model need some corrections.
In this second work we apply the previously developed framework to relativistic models of the universe. It results that one parameter remain free, so that more solutions are possible, as function of inhomogeneity. One of these fully explains the dark energy, but requires more dark matter than the Cosmological Standard Model (91% of the total matter). Another solution fully explains the dark matter, but requires more dark energy than the Cosmological Standard Model (15% more). A third noteworthy solution explains a consistent part of the dark matter (it would be 63% of the total matter) and also some of the dark energy (4%).