Astrophysicists show in a new study that two of the “darkest” things in the Universe may in fact be combining to produce highly-energetic radiation. The finding may open the way for developing new techniques aimed at observing dark matter.
The team behind the investigation says that supermassive black hole – of the type that are usually found at the core of large galaxies – may be releasing jets that interact with surrounding dark matter.
This violent interaction may be promoting the creation of high-energy gamma rays, which are some of the most powerful radiation in the entire Universe. Our equipment can detect these photons.
At this point, astronomers only infer that dark matter exists, based on the gravitational effects it exerts on normal matter within galaxies. But the stuff itself has never been observed, despite all attempts.
Physicists have tried everything from detectors buried in mines to satellites in orbit, but particles making up dark matter have yet to be identified independently.
This may soon become possible due to the new discovery, given that analyzing the path and type of gamma rays we see could lead us to determine their source.
The idea in itself is nothing new, but physicists thus far believed that the resulting gamma-rays would simply be too dim to be seen from Earth, NewScientist
New information suggests that spacecrafts such as the NASA Fermi telescope could indeed discover these radiations, and make sense of their origins.
The team that conducted the new study believes that this interference that occurs between black holes and dark matter may be what underlies the gamma rays that Fermi detected in the galaxy Centaurus A.
“The exciting thing is that we have some hints from the Fermi data, but of course you need confirmation – you need other pieces of the puzzle to come together,” says Stefano Profumo, who is a professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz (UCSC).
Though researchers believe they may have explained the gamma-rays coming from Centaurus A. new findings could quell their enthusiasm.
The team found similar radiation coming in from the distant galaxy Messier 87. However, these gamma-rays do not match theoretical predictions of how they should look like.
But some believe that these discrepancies may in fact be produced by dark matter distribution, which is most definitely different between the two galaxies.
“One has to regard the results as very premature,” Stockholm University expert Lars Bergstrom adds.