For the first time in decades, scientists believe they finally have hard evidence related to dark matter‘s existence. A team of Swiss and Dutch researchers has recently found some signals in the X-ray spectrum that didn’t match any of known particles from a cluster of remote galaxies. It seems that the mysterious signals may come from an elusive matter, undetectable by optical instruments – the dark matter.
Scientists at Swiss Laboratory of Particle Physics and Cosmology (LPPC) and Dutch Leiden University have analyzed the types of signals the matter in the Andromeda galaxy and in several galaxies located in the constellation Perseus were sending. Scientists say that all atoms have a spectrum, a pattern of light, that allows astronomers to estimate the type of matter stars and planets are made of without getting close to them.
Nevertheless, when analyzing galaxies from Perseus and Andromeda researchers noticed some spikes on the spectrum although they weren’t supposed to be there. Scientists suggest that these spikes may be traces from an invisible matter that fills 80 percent of the Universe – the dark matter. This matter normally cannot be traced, but it seems that when it decays it releases particles of light, photons, that got recorded by the LPPC’s instruments.
“We think what we have discovered is the decay of a particle of Dark Matter. It could usher in a new era in astronomy,”
Dr Oleg Ruchayskiy, one of the LPPC scientists, said.
Scientists now say that the dark matter detected will help them build telescopes specially designed to detect dark matter across the Universe.
Dr Alexey Boyarsky, researcher at Leiden University, said that dark matter was everyone and everyone was looking for it, but it was very hard to catch. The LPPC’s discovery might be the first sign of its existence, Dr Boyarsky added.
Researchers are now optimistic since the new discovery will help them trace dark matter across space and better understand how the Universe was formed.
Seventy years ago, the first scientists that theorized about dark matter said that the movement of the stars, planets and galaxies was sometimes unusual – the amount of gravity in the Universe was way too much as compared to the amount of the visible matter contained. So, researchers thought there was another type of matter, invisible to their instruments, but detectable by its gravity.
The LPPC scientists used the European Space Agency’s (ESA) XMM-Newton telescope to gather thousands of particle signals. During the process, they found that there was an anomaly beyond any measurement error. A weak signal featured on the X-ray spectrum as a photon emission with unknown origins.
Scientists were thrilled because they suspected they have found a trace of dark matter. To test their hunch, they also measured the center of Milky Way where dark matter was expected to be plenty and found similar signals.