Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists analyze the rotational dynamics of galaxies and the influence of the mass of the photon

05.03.2019

Could the effect of photon mass on the gaseous components in galaxies be as strong as that of dark matter?

The rotation of stars in galaxies such as our Milky Way is puzzling. The orbital speeds of stars should decrease with their distance from the center of the galaxy, but in fact stars in the middle and outer regions of galaxies have the same rotational speed. This may be due to the gravitational effect of matter that we can't see.


The spiral structure of our galaxy, the Milky Way, in an artistic impression

photo/©: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Visiting the Mainz University Gutenberg Campus: (fltr) Professor Dr. Margarita Ryutova, Professor Dr. Motohiko Yoshimura, host Professor Dr. Dmitry Budker, and Professor Dr. Dmitri Ryutov

photo/©: Dmitry Budker

But although researchers have been seeking it for decades, the existence of such 'dark matter' has yet to be definitively proven and we still don't know what it might be made of. With this in mind, the physicists Dmitri Ryutov, Dmitry Budker, and Victor Flambaum have suggested that the rotational dynamics of galaxies might be explained by other factors. They hypothesize that the mass of photons, which are particles of light, might be responsible.

Professor Dmitri Ryutov, who recently retired from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, USA, is an expert in plasma physics. He was awarded the American Physical Society's (APS) 2017 Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics for his achievements in the field. Physicists generally credit Ryutov with establishing the upper limit for the mass of the photon.

As this mass, even if it is nonzero, is extremely small, it is usually ignored when analyzing atomic and nuclear processes. But even a vanishingly tiny mass of the photon could, according to the scientists' collaborative proposal, have an effect on large-scale astrophysical phenomena.

While visiting Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), Ryutov, his host Professor Dmitry Budker of the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM), and Professor Victor Flambaum, Fellow of the Gutenberg Research College of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU), decided to take a closer look at the idea.

They were interested in how the infinitesimally small mass of the photon could have an effect on massive galaxies. The mechanism at the core of the physicists' assumption is a consequence of what is known as Maxwell-Proca equations. These would allow additional centripetal forces to be generated as a result of the electromagnetic stresses in a galaxy.

Are the effects as strong as those exerted by dark matter?

"The hypothetical effect we are investigating is not the result of increased gravity," explained Dmitry Budker. This effect may occur concurrently with the assumed influence of dark matter. It may even – under certain circumstances – completely eliminate the need to evoke dark matter as a factor when it comes to explaining rotation curves. Rotation curves express the relationship between the orbital speeds of stars in a galaxy and their radial distance from the galaxy's center.

"By assuming a certain photon mass, much smaller than the current upper limit, we can show that this mass would be sufficient to generate additional forces in a galaxy and that these forces would be roughly large enough to explain the rotation curves," said Budker. "This conclusion is extremely exciting."

The physicists even ventured a step further. They looked into how protostars form and discovered that their hypothesis has other implications. It predicts that long-lived, relatively lightweight stars, such as our sun, would have highly elliptical orbits. "Actual observations clearly don't agree with this prediction, meaning our theory can't explain everything."

Proca-force effects can thus only be responsible for some of the anomalies in the rotation curves. "We don’t currently consider photon mass to be the solution to the rotation-curve problem. But it could be part of the solution," concluded Budker. "However, we need to keep an open mind as long as we do not actually know what dark matter is."

Images:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/bilder_presse/08_physik_quantum_galaxie_rotationskurven_...
Visiting the Mainz University Gutenberg Campus: (fltr) Professor Dr. Margarita Ryutova, Professor Dr. Motohiko Yoshimura, host Professor Dr. Dmitry Budker, and Professor Dr. Dmitri Ryutov
photo/©: Dmitry Budker

http://www.uni-mainz.de/bilder_presse/08_physik_quantum_galaxie_rotationskurven_...
The spiral structure of our galaxy, the Milky Way, in an artistic impression
photo/©: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Related links:
* https://budker.uni-mainz.de/ – Budker Lab at the Helmholtz Institute Mainz and JGU
* https://www.hi-mainz.de/ – Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM)
* https://pls.llnl.gov/people/staff-bios/physics/ryutov-d – Dmitri Ryutov at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
* https://www.aps.org/newsroom/pressreleases/maxwell17.cfm – APS press release "Dmitri Ryutov Wins 2017 Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics" (14 July 2017)

Read more:
* http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/6963_ENG_HTML.php – press release "Atomic parity violation research reaches new milestone" (13 Nov. 2018)
* http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/aktuell/6769_ENG_HTML.php – press release "Earth's magnetic field measured using artificial stars at 90 kilometers altitude" (14 Nov. 2018)
* http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/20266_ENG_HTML.php – press release "ERC Advanced Grant for experimental physicist Dmitry Budker" (12 May 2016)
* http://www.magazin.uni-mainz.de/2452_ENG_HTML.php – JGU MAGAZINE: "Not everything in the universe is symmetrical" (9 Jan. 2015)

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Professor Dr. Dmitry Budker
Helmholtz Institute Mainz and
Quantum, Atomic, and Neutron Physics Group (QUANTUM)
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-27414
e-mail: budker@uni-mainz.de
http://www.phmi.uni-mainz.de/ENG/8055.php

Originalpublikation:

D. D. Ryutov, D. Budker, V. V. Flambaum, A Hypothetical Effect of the Maxwell–Proca Electromagnetic Stresses on Galaxy Rotation Curves, The Astrophysical Journal 871:2, 1 Februar 2019,
DOI:10.3847/1538-4357/aaf63a
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/aaf63a/meta

Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht FAST detects neutral hydrogen emission from extragalactic galaxies for the first time
02.07.2020 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht First exposed planetary core discovered
01.07.2020 | Universität Bern

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: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

Im Focus: ILA Goes Digital – Automation & Production Technology for Adaptable Aircraft Production

Live event – July 1, 2020 - 11:00 to 11:45 (CET)
"Automation in Aerospace Industry @ Fraunhofer IFAM"

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM l Stade is presenting its forward-looking R&D portfolio for the first time at...

Im Focus: AI monitoring of laser welding processes - X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality

With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams. Thanks to a special evaluation method based on artificial intelligence (AI), the detection process is completed in just 70 milliseconds.

Laser welding is a process suitable for joining metals and thermoplastics. It has become particularly well established in highly automated production, for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rising water temperatures could endanger the mating of many fish species

03.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Risk of infection with COVID-19 from singing: First results of aerosol study with the Bavarian Radio Chorus

03.07.2020 | Studies and Analyses

Efficient, Economical and Aesthetic: Researchers Build Electrodes from Leaves

03.07.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>