Black holes colliding, gravitational waves riding through space-time - and a huge instrument that allows scientists to investigate the fabric of the universe. This could soon become reality when the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) takes up operations. Researchers from the University of Zurich have now found that LISA could also shed light on the elusive dark matter particle.
The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) will enable astrophysicists to observe gravitational waves emitted by black holes as they collide with or capture other black holes. LISA will consist of three spacecraft orbiting the sun in a constant triangle formation. Gravitational waves passing through will distort the sides of the triangle slightly, and these minimal distortions can be detected by laser beams connecting the spacecraft. LISA could therefore add a new sense to scientists' perception of the universe and enable them to study phenomena invisible in different light spectra.
Dwarf galaxies are natural laboratories
Scientists from the Center for Theoretical Astrophysics and Cosmology of the University of Zurich, together with colleagues from Greece and Canada, have now found that LISA will not only be able to measure these previously unstudied waves, but could also help to unveil secrets about another mysterious part of the universe: dark matter.
Dark matter particles are thought to account for approx. 85% of the matter in the universe. However, they are still only hypothetical - the name refers to their "hiding" from all previous attempts to see, let alone study them. But calculations show that many galaxies would be torn apart instead of rotating if they weren't held together by a large amount of dark matter.
That is especially true for dwarf galaxies. While such galaxies are small and faint, they are also the most abundant in the universe. What makes them particularly interesting for astrophysicists is that their structures are dominated by dark matter, making them "natural laboratories" for studying this elusive form of matter.
Black holes and dark matter are connected
As reported in Astrophysical Journal Letters, high-resolution computer simulations of the birth of dwarf galaxies, designed and carried out by UZH PhD student Tomas Ramfal, yielded surprising results. Calculating the interplay of dark matter, stars and the central black holes of these galaxies, the team of scientists from Zurich discovered a strong link between the merger rates of these black holes and the amount of dark matter at the center of dwarf galaxies. Measuring gravitational waves emitted by merging black holes can thus provide hints about the properties of the hypothetical dark matter particle.
The newly found connection between black holes and dark matter can now be described in a mathematical and exact way for the first time. But it is far from being a chance finding, stresses Lucio Mayer, the group leader: "Dark matter is the distinguishing quality of dwarf galaxies. We had therefore long suspected that this should also have a clear effect on cosmological properties."
The connection comes at an opportune moment, just as preparations for the final design of LISA are under way. Preliminary results of the researchers' simulations were met with excitement at meetings of the LISA consortium. The physics community sees the new use of gravitational wave observations as a very promising new prospect for one the biggest future European space missions, which will take place in about 15 years and could link cosmology and particle physics - the incredibly big and the unimaginably small.
Prof. Lucio Mayer
Institute for Computational Science
University of Zurich
Phone: +41 44 635 61 98
Tomas Tamfal, Pedro R. Capelo, Stelios Kazantzidis, Lucio Mayer, Douglas Potter, Joachim Stadel, and Lawrence M. Widrow. Formation of LISA Black Hole Binaries in Merging Dwarf Galaxies: The Imprint of Dark Matter. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 30. August 2018. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/aada4b
Melanie Nyfeler | Universität Zürich
Appreciating the classical elegance of time crystals
20.09.2019 | ETH Zurich Department of Physics
'Nanochains' could increase battery capacity, cut charging time
20.09.2019 | Purdue University
How long the battery of your phone or computer lasts depends on how many lithium ions can be stored in the battery's negative electrode material. If the battery runs out of these ions, it can't generate an electrical current to run a device and ultimately fails.
Materials with a higher lithium ion storage capacity are either too heavy or the wrong shape to replace graphite, the electrode material currently used in...
To process information, photons must interact. However, these tiny packets of light want nothing to do with each other, each passing by without altering the...
Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.
The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.
At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.
Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...
Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....
19.09.2019 | Event News
10.09.2019 | Event News
04.09.2019 | Event News
20.09.2019 | Life Sciences
20.09.2019 | Life Sciences
20.09.2019 | Life Sciences