Dark Matter Discovery : Have scientists found first sign of Dark Matter?

Updated: December 14, 2014
Dark Matter Discovery : Have scientists found first sign of Dark Matter?

Dark Matter Discovery? Astronomers believe they may have finally found the first physical evidence that shows the existence of dark matter. A team of Swiss and Dutch researchers recently detected an unusual signal originating from the Andromeda galaxy and Perseus galaxy cluster. According to researchers, the X-ray emissions cannot be explained by any known atom or particle and, therefore, could be the result of dark matter.

Most astronomers still think that dark matter exists, but it remains hypothetical until some form of evidence is found. Without it, everything scientists think they know about the universe falls apart. For example, their calculations for and modeling of celestial behaviors wouldn’t make sense.

It is believed that around 80 percent of the universe is made up of dark matter, exerting gravitational forces on its surroundings. Since dark matter doesn’t emit or absorb light, it’s close to impossible to observe.

Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EFPL), in Switzerland, believe they have fielded a dark matter signal. The signal, “a weak, atypical photon emission,” can’t be attributed to any known particle or matter.

“The signal’s distribution within the galaxy corresponds exactly to what we were expecting with dark matter, that is, concentrated and intense in the center of objects and weaker and diffuse on the edges,” researcher Oleg Ruchayskiy, an astronomy professor at Leiden University, said in a press release.

Scientists have provided a number of theories as to the type of particles that make up dark matter, like weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) and axions. The most popular theory incolces the “sterile neutrino,” a relative of the “ordinary” neutrino, a weakly interacting elementary subatomic particle that is without an electric charge.

It’s said that a decaying sterile neutrino could give off photons, meaning the odd X-ray emissions detected by ESA’s XMM-Newton telescope.

“Confirmation of this discovery may lead to construction of new telescopes specially designed for studying the signals from dark matter particles,” said Ruchayskiy’s research partner, Alexey Boyarsky in the release. “We will know where to look in order to trace dark structures in space and will be able to reconstruct how the Universe has formed.”

The discovery was published online in Cornell’s open access library arXiv.