Radio wavelength emissions recorded from filaments located within our galaxy may in fact represent a definitive proof that dark matter indeed exists. Astronomers discovered these central galactic filaments some years ago, but had no way of explaining them until now.
In the new study, experts are proposing that the emissions themselves are in fact produced by the self-annihilation of dark matter. Under some theories, weakly-interacting massive particles (WIMP) are their own antiparticles.
WIMP – believed to be the main component of dark matter – do not interact often, but when they do, they annihilate each other, producing large amounts of energy. This energy may be released as radio wavelengths from the galactic core, where experts believe most dark matter should be concentrated.
The central galactic region that features filaments expands some 900 light-years from the Milky Way's core. To get a sense of scale, the entire galaxy is an estimated 100,000 light-years in diameter.
The filaments themselves are around 1 to 3 light-years thick and 10 to 100 light-years long, the team says, and are basically regions of high magnetic fields capable of emitting high frequency radio waves.
“There's a long literature about these objects, and there have been some ideas as to what might generate their emission – but frankly no one really knows,” says scientist Dan Hooper, quoted by Daily Galaxy
The expert is an astrophysicist at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), as well as a coauthor of a new paper detailing the findings. He calls the radio waves synchrotron radiations.
These are radiations produced when electrons are accelerated inside naturally-occurring particle accelerator in space. “One thing it explains that the astrophysical possibilities don't is that the filaments that are closer to the galactic center are brighter than those that are farther away,” Hooper told BBC News.
“We would say that's because there's more dark matter as you come closer to the galactic center – it provides a natural explanation for that,” he added.
“That's definitely one of the strengths of this model; the results seem promising,” comments University of California in Berkeley (UCB) astrophysicist Sukanya Chakrabarti.