May 29, 2020


Aim for Excellence

A New Analysis Has Failed to Find a Dark Matter ‘Glow’ in The Milky Way’s Halo

At the time all over again, a look for for signals of dim make a...

At the time all over again, a look for for signals of dim make a difference exterior its gravitational outcome has turned up zilch – but this time it is a very little additional controversial. Astronomers peering into empty house have not located an X-ray glow hypothesised to be the products of just one unique dim make a difference prospect: the sterile neutrino.


It is, the researchers say, a final result that throws a little bit of a dampener on this prospect as a leading contender for dim make a difference – but won’t extinguish it totally.

Dim make a difference is a big old problem mark. Although we won’t be able to detect it directly, we know it is out there simply because it is getting a definitely huge gravitational outcome on the things we can detect, also identified as standard make a difference.

For instance, things on the outer edges of galaxies moves speedier than it must if it were being underneath the gravitational impact of standard make a difference by yourself. And gravitational lensing – the way gravity bends the route of gentle – is stronger than we would expect, as well. From these effects, astronomers have calculated that as a great deal as 85 % of the make a difference in the Universe is dim make a difference.

For the reason that we won’t be able to detect it, though, we do not know what it is. And there are a number of hypothetical candidates, with astronomers attempting to come up with strategies to detect these.

The sterile neutrino is a hypothetical particle. Ordinary neutrinos, the most abundant particles in the Universe, are incredibly hard to detect at the greatest of periods – they are very similar to electrons, but with no charge and incredibly very little mass, so they hardly interact with standard make a difference. A sterile neutrino, physicists have hypothesised, would not interact with standard make a difference at all, apart from maybe gravitationally.


But these hypothetical neutrinos are unstable, as well. They must decay into standard neutrinos and electromagnetic radiation. And, if they are so decaying, then that radiation must be detectable. Incredibly faint, but detectable.

That’s what a 2014 review claimed to have done – detected the faint X-rays from sterile neutrino decay from distant galaxies, an emission named the 3.five KeV line. But then observe-up scientific studies – just one in 2016 on a dwarf galaxy 260,000 gentle-many years absent, and yet another in 2017 on a galaxy cluster 240 million gentle-many years absent – located no these kinds of issue.

So, a team of researchers made the decision to look a little bit closer to dwelling. We know the Milky Way has a sizeable dim make a difference halo, so if sterile neutrinos are decaying in it, they must be detectable all-around the galaxy.

The team executed a meta-analysis of twenty many years of raw archival X-ray information of empty house all-around the Milky Way, where by other glowing objects would not generate interference, taken by the XMM-Newton house telescope, seeking for signals of that 3.five KeV emission. They failed to uncover any.

“This 2014 paper and observe-up performs verified the sign produced a significant amount of desire in the astrophysics and particle physics communities simply because of the probability of figuring out, for the very first time, specifically what dim make a difference is at a microscopic stage,” mentioned physicist Ben Safdi of the College of Michigan.


“Our acquiring does not indicate that the dim make a difference is not a sterile neutrino, but it means that – contrary to what was claimed in 2014 – there is no experimental proof to-day that details in direction of its existence.”

The final result suggests that one thing else was triggering the 3.five KeV glow noticed in that 2014 review, the researchers mentioned. But not every person is persuaded. Physicist Alexey Boyarsky of Leiden College in the Netherlands posted a very similar study to preprint server arXiv, seeking at the blank sky of the Milky Way. His team believes they did uncover the 3.five KeV line.

“I believe this paper is erroneous,” he mentioned of the new research to Science Magazine. The diverse effects could be the products of the two diverse analysis strategies both of those groups feel their technique is top-quality, although Boyarsky’s paper is nonetheless to be peer-reviewed.

So it looks the problem might nonetheless be fairly open, and only additional research can enable to resolve it.

Meanwhile, there is certainly yet another path that can be taken, as well. Safdi says that his team’s conclusions open up a new avenue for further more look for on the make a difference.

“While this do the job does, regretably, throw cold drinking water on what seemed like what may have been the very first proof for the microscopic mother nature of dim make a difference, it does open up a entire new solution to seeking for dim make a difference which could direct to a discovery in the in the vicinity of future,” he mentioned.

The research has been revealed in Science.