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Study Results Provide New Insights into Dark Matter

In a study submitted to Physical Review D, a journal of the American Physical Society, astrophysicists from the University of California, Irvine, have discovered that gamma-ray photons originating from the Milky Way galactic center are consistent with the interesting leeway that dark-matter particles are destructing each other in space.

Manoj Kaplinghat, Associate Professor, and Kevork Abazajian, Assistant Professor, of the Department of Physics & Astronomy explored the data from August 2008 to June 2012, gathered from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope orbiting Earth. What they discovered was more amount of gamma-ray photons originate from the center of the Milky Way galaxy than the predictions made with earlier scientific models.

Gamma-rays are electromagnetic radiation released during high-energy particle processes such as radioactive decay. Abazajian informed that this new source has been analyzed for the first time with such high statistical importance. The most interesting area is the consistency of the observed gamma rays’ shape, rate and spectrum with major hypotheses for dark matter. Future analyses of regions with reduced astrophysical emission like dwarf galaxies can convincingly detect if this is really from the dark matter.

Not directly detectable and non-luminous dark matter is believed to represent 85% of the universe’s mass. The existence of this dark matter can only be assumed from its gravitational effects on visible matter. The study findings provide insights into its presumed existence at the galactic center. The current theory is that dark matter is made of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). The meeting of two WIMPs results in their destruction and generation of familiar particles such as gamma rays.

Kaplinghat informed that even though the data interpretation appears to be in line with the dark-matter hypothesis, the gamma rays may be released from a source other than the WIMP annihilation. The signal observed is also in line with photons released by pulsars or by high-energy particles interplaying with gas in the center of the galaxy.


Will Soutter

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Will Soutter

Will has a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Durham, and a M.Sc. in Green Chemistry from the University of York. Naturally, Will is our resident Chemistry expert but, a love of science and the internet makes Will the all-rounder of the team. In his spare time Will likes to play the drums, cook and brew cider.


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