Scientists have long theorized about the existence of dark matter. Now, they may finally have hard evidence of its existence.
Discovery News reported that data from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft has scientists excited about dark matter. The discovery of two separate signals, one from the Andromeda galaxy and one from the Perseus galaxy cluster may indeed provide the kind of proof scientists have sought for so long.
Scientists have not been able to link the signals to any known particle or atom, leading them to believe the signals may be produced by dark matter. Oleg Ruchayskiy from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland commented on the possible link.
“The signal’s distribution within the galaxy corresponds exactly to what we were expecting with dark materthat is, concentrated and intense in the center of objects and weaker and diffuse on the edges.”
The Huffington Post is reporting that the same x-ray signal was detected by a research team at Harvard this past June. The Harvard team claims they spotted the signal in 70 different galaxy clusters.
Dr. Alexey Boyarsky, professor of physics at Leiden University in the Netherlands, told the Huffington Post that the signal has passed several tests for dark matter. He also thinks the discovery could open new doors for scientific research.
“This tiny (several hundred extra photons) excess has been interpreted as originating from very rare decays of dark matter particles. Although the signal is very weak, it has passed several ‘sanity checks’ that one expects from a decaying dark matter signal…Confirmation of this discovery may lead to construction of new telescopes specially designed for studying the signals from dark matter particles. We will know where to look in order to and will be able to reconstruct how the Universe has formed.”
It is estimated that around 80 percent of all matter in the universe is “dark,” meaning it is undetectable by current scientific equipment. The existence of dark matter is theorized based on the gravitational interactions of the observable objects in the universe. Scientists have theorized several different dark matter particles, including weakly interacting massive particles, axions and sterile neutrinos. The decay of sterile neutrinos was thought to produce the x-rays which may be the cause of the new signals.
Scientists on the XMM-Newton team are expected to finalize their study and publish results next week. The team feels they could be on the doorstep of a new era in astronomy.
[Photo Courtesy of Discovery]