Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers suggest that ’dark-matter highway’ may be streaming through Earth


Findings offer clearer view of how to detect unseen matter in the universe

Astrophysicist Heidi Newberg at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her colleagues suggest that a "highway" of dark matter from another galaxy may be showering down on Earth. The findings may change the way astronomers look for mysterious cosmic particles, long suspected to outweigh known atomic matter.

The findings of Newberg and researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Utah have been published in the March 19 issue of Physical Review Letters.

Scientists believe that about 90 percent of the mass in the universe is made up of particles called "dark matter." This belief is based on an unseen gravitational pull on the stars, but observations to directly detect dark matter have been sketchy. One Italy-based research group, called DAMA (for DArk MAtter), has made steady claims to have detected particles of dark matter, but so far the results have not been confirmed.

But, the disruption of a dwarf galaxy called Sagittarius, which is being torn apart and consumed by the much larger gravitational pull of the Milky Way, may be the key to reconciling the results of dark matter experiments of DAMA and other research groups.

The dwarf galaxy’s entrails of stars and dust, like a long piece of ribbon, are entangled around and within our galaxy. The so-called "trailing tidal tail" can be seen to extend from Sagittarius’ center and arcs across and below the plane of the Milky Way. The leading part of the tail extends northward above our galaxy where it then turns and appears to be showering shredded galaxy debris down directly on our solar system, Newberg and colleagues say.

"As the Milky Way consumes Sagittarius, it not only rips the stars from the smaller galaxy, but also tears away some of the dark-matter particles from that galaxy. We may be able to directly observe that in the form of a dark-matter highway streaming in one direction through the Earth," says Newberg, who has recently identified stars near the sun that could be part of this leading tidal tail.

WIMPs, or Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, are the most likely form of dark matter. Astrophysicists measure the possibility of WIMP detection based on calculations that the particles are coming from the Milky Way’s galactic halo.

As Earth orbits around the center of the galaxy, the planet flies through this cloud of dark matter. As that happens, billions of these weakly interacting (and therefore difficult to detect) particles could be passing through each of our bodies every second.

As a result of the new findings, scientists now have another source in which to look for these dark-matter particles, says Katherine Freese, University of Michigan researcher and co-author of the Physical Review Letters paper. Freese, her graduate student Matthew Lewis, and Paolo Gondolo from the University of Utah have calculated the effects that the tidal stream would have on dark-matter detection experiments.

"If you expect to see only halo WIMPs, there will be an extra set of particles streaming through the Earth that were not accounted for," Freese says. "Scientists will need to adjust their calculations to look for this. Finding this stream would represent a smoking gun for dark-matter detection."

About Rensselaer

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation’s oldest technological university. The school offers degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of research centers that are characterized by strong industry partnerships. The Institute is especially well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.

Jodi Ackerman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>