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A New Twist in the Dark Matter Tale

Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:25 pm

An innovative interpretation of X-ray data from a cluster of galaxies could help scientists fulfill a quest they have been on for decades: determining the nature of dark matter.

The finding involves a new explanation for a set of results made with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, ESA’s XMM-Newton and Hitomi, a Japanese-led X-ray telescope. If confirmed with future observations, this may represent a major step forward in understanding the nature of the mysterious, invisible substance that makes up about 85% of matter in the universe.

“We expect that this result will either be hugely important or a total dud,” said Joseph Conlon of Oxford University who led the new study. “I don't think there is a halfway point when you are looking for answers to one of the biggest questions in science.”

The story of this work started in 2014 when a team of astronomers led by Esra Bulbul (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.) found a spike of intensity at a very specific energy in Chandra and XMM-Newton observations of the hot gas in the Perseus galaxy cluster.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:26 pm

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Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXO/Fabian et al.; Radio: Gendron-Marsolais et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF Optical: NASA, SDSS

Composite image of the Perseus galaxy cluster using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, ESA’s XMM-Newton and Hitomi, a Japanese-led X-ray telescope.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:27 pm



In 2014, astronomers detected an unusual feature in X-ray data from Perseus and other galaxy clusters.

Since then, Chandra and other X-ray telescopes have taken more observations to replicate the finding.

The existence and interpretation of this spike in X-ray light has been controversial and difficult to explain.

Now, a new team of astronomers has reanalyzed these and other data and come up with a fresh take on this debate.

They suggest that dark matter particles in the galaxy clusters are both absorbing and emitting X-rays.

If the new model turns out to be correct, it could provide a path for scientists to identify the true nature of dark matter.

 

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Owlscrying
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Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:21 am

Unread post Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:29 pm



Combining data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio observations and computer simulations, scientists have found a vast wave of hot gas in the nearby Perseus galaxy cluster. Spanning some 200,000 light-years, the wave is about twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy.

The researchers say the wave formed billions of years ago, after a small galaxy cluster grazed Perseus and caused its vast supply of gas to slosh around an enormous volume of space.

Galaxy clusters are the largest structures bound by gravity in the universe today. Some 11 million light-years across and located about 240 million light-years away, the Perseus galaxy cluster is named for its host constellation. Like all galaxy clusters, most of its observable matter takes the form of a pervasive gas averaging tens of millions of degrees, so hot it only glows in X-rays.

 

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