Two different spacecraft have discovered a mysterious signal, that could be a signal of dark matter, the strange, invisible material that makes up the majority of the physical universe. One of NASA’s X-ray Observatories and the European Space Agency’s number one satellite each noticed a spike of X-ray emissions coming out of over 70 different galaxy constellations. While the source of the X-rays is unclear at the present time, it is believed they might have been created by the deterioration of a specific type of particle of dark matter, stated astronomers who have been working on this research study .
Esra Bulbul, who is the lead author of the research report and also works for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts, stated that scientists realize that going with the dark matter explanation is definitely a long shot, but the payoff will be enormous if they happen to be correct. So they have decided to go on with testing that explanation and see where it takes them.
Dark matter has that name because it does not absorb or emit light, making it impossible to detect directly but astronomers still know that dark matter is real because it interacts gravitationally with the regular matter that can be both seen and touched.
It is believed that dark matter actually makes up over 80 percent of every bit of matter that exists in the entire universe but scientists do not actually understand what it is. Over many years, astronomers have come with various ideas about dark matter. They have stated different possible particles as being candidates of what dark matter is, such as weakly interacting massive particles or WIMPs or sterile neutrinos, which would be a theoretical type of neutrino which lets off X-rays when it deteriorates.
It is possible that the signal which was detected by the two spacecraft was created by sterile neutrinos, stated astrophysicists but that is very far from being from a sure thing they emphasized, since the X-ray spike detection pushed each observatory to the limits of what their sensitivity could pick up.
One of the research study’s co-authors, Maxim Markevitch, who works for a NASA flight center in Maryland, declared that the researchers all have a lot of work to do before they are able to claim, with any sort of confidence, that they discovered sterile neutrinos but even the possibility of finding them has the group extremely excited.
Regular matter in the galaxy groups might also be responsible for the emissions. However this specific interpretation has not meshed very well with present thinking about galaxy constellations and the physics of atomic hot gases, explained the scientists.
A second co-author, Adam Foster, explained that the scientists’ next step was going to be to combine data from NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA’s Suzaku mission for a huge number of galaxy clusters to see if they could detect the same X-ray signal from Suzaku.
Foster added that there are many ideas floating around about what this information could mean. It may not be known in any better detail until Astro-H is launched.
Astro-H is an X-ray observatory which is being built by the Japanese. It has been scheduled to launch up to the Earth’s orbit sometime in 2015.
The new research report was printed up in the most recent edition of The Astrophysical Journal. Two different spacecraft have discovered a possible signal of dark matter, the strange, invisible material that makes up the majority of the physical universe.
By Kimberly Ruble