Scientists recently discovered a dwarf galaxy emitting intense gamma radiation – a possible evidence for dark matter.
Dark matter cannot be fully explained. Scientists say that it doesn’t emit or absorb light, making it virtually impossible to be observed with space telescopes or any optical instruments for that matter. Theorists consider dark matter exists because one cannot explain numerous cosmic phenomena without its presence.
It is considered that dark matter accounts for about 80 percent of cosmic matter and its presence is noted whenever inexplicable gravitational phenomena like the rotation of galaxies or cosmic wave background modifications occur.
One main theory states that dark matter consists of Weakly Interactive Massive Particles (WIMPs) which through interaction generate powerful gamma rays. With this new discovery the hypothesis becomes even more legitimate.
The issue, however, is when needing differentiate other sources of gamma radiation (like black holes, pulsars and quasars) from dark matter.
This new discovery gives scientists a different approach in terms of gamma radiation and dark matter. Scientist detected large amounts of gamma radiation coming from a dwarf galaxy close to our Milky Way.
Alex Geringer-Sameth, postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Physics and also the study’s lead author said in a statement that:
“Something in the direction of this dwarf galaxy is emitting gamma rays. There’s no conventional reason this galaxy should be giving off gamma rays, so it’s potentially a signal for dark matter.”
Study co-author and Physics professor at Brown University Saves Koushiappas explained that usually larger galaxies are the ones with gamma ray sources such as supermassive black holes, pulsars or quasars. Dwarf galaxies on the other hand are “very clean and quiet systems” meaning that in the case of newly discovered galaxy, Reticulum 2, the only reason it could emit powerful gamma rays would be due to the presence of dark matter.
Reticulum 2 is the closest dwarf galaxy, located 98,000 light years from our planet. It was detected during the Dark Energy Survey, “an experiment that maps the southern sky to understand the accelerated expansion of the universe.”
Although the prospect of finally understanding bits and pieces regarding dark matter is very exciting, the team stated that further research needs to be done, in order to confirm that dark matter is the actual source of gamma radiation in Reticulum 2.
Image Source: PR Newswire