A new step in the search for the origin of dark matter

A signal that is present both in the centre of our Milky Way and in distant places in the universe could reveal the origin of dark matter. This is what Leiden physicist Alexey Boyarsky concludes in an article in Physical Review Letters.

Simultaneous discoveries

Artist's impression of the XMM-Newton telescope (source: ESA)

Artist's impression of the XMM-Newton telescope (source: ESA)

Boyarsky's research team discovered an indirect dark matter signal in the spectrum of certain galaxies through the x-ray telescope Newton-XMM in 2014. A research team at Harvard University made the same discovery at almost exactly the same time.

Narrow peak in x-ray spectrum

Neither team knew that the other had made the discovery, but they did draw the same conclusion: there is a very narrow peak hidden in the Andromeda galaxy's x-ray spectrum, at a frequency that cannot be explained by any known atomic transition. In other words: our familiar 'ordinary' matter cannot be responsible for this..

In the Milky Way as well

In a new study, Boyarsky and his fellow researchers looked at XMM Newton-data from the core of the Milky Way and found the same signal as they had observed in the earlier study. According to them, this makes it even more difficult to identify known matter that could be the cause of these observations, which were carried out in places in the universe far removed from each other.

‘It comes down to luck’

Boyarsky and his team now want to aim the x-ray telescope at a dwarf galaxy which is known to contain very few chemical elements. They hope to find the same signal again. Boyarsky: ‘There is of course no guarantee that we will find the signal in the dwarf galaxy. We have done everything we could and now it purely comes down to luck. If we find it there as well, that would be strong proof for the existence of dark matter. There will need to be many more observations after this.’

(13 October 2015)


Alexey Boyarsky, Jeroen Franse, Dmytro Iakubovskyi, Oleg Ruchayskiy:
Checking the dark matter origin of 3.53 keV line with the Milky Way center

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Last Modified: 15-10-2015