Mass limits of dark matter derived from 'strange' stars

Oct 12, 2010 By Lisa Zyga feature
A simulated dark matter halo. Physicists have put a new limit on WIMP mass by investigating how WIMPs can convert neutron stars into strange stars. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Much of the matter in our universe may be made of a type of dark matter called weakly interacting massive particles, better known as WIMPs. Although some scientists predict that these hypothetical particles possess many of the necessary properties to account for dark matter, so far scientists have not been able to make any definite predictions of their mass. Now, in a new study, physicists have derived a limit on the WIMP mass by calculating how these dark matter particles can transform neutron stars into stars made of strange quark matter, or "strange" stars.

The physicists, Dr. M. Angeles Perez-Garcia from the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain, along with Dr. Joseph Silk of the University of Oxford and Dr. Jirina R. Stone of the University of Oxford and the University of Tennessee, have published their study in a recent issue of .

“We have proposed a mechanism to put an additional constraint on the WIMP mass based on the possibility of WIMP self-annihilation as a procedure to create strangelets in the interior of neutron stars, which could trigger a transition to a quark star,” Perez-Garcia told PhysOrg.com. “WIMP mass is an important quantity to know since WIMPS are considered to be constituents of . Dark matter is presently thought to form most of the matter in the universe. By knowing this value, we would be able to put another piece of fundamental information on our current knowledge of the building blocks of our universe and after that see, for example, how dark matter interacts with regular matter, how it is distributed spatially, etc.”

As , WIMPs are thought to be largely located in the halos of galaxies. Although galaxy halos are not visible, they contain most of a galaxy's mass in the form of the heavy WIMPs. In their study, the scientists focused on what happens when WIMPs from galactic halos are captured by neutron stars located deeper within the galaxy.

Neutron stars are known for their extreme density: although a typical neutron star has a radius of only 10 km, it has more mass than our Sun. Theories predict that neutron stars and black holes are gravitational accretors of dark matter. Some models even discuss that WIMPs could have formed the first stars in our universe, known as dark stars, powered by dark matter annihilation instead of nuclear fusion.

In their study, the scientists theoretically showed that, when a neutron star gravitationally captures nearby WIMPs, the WIMPs may trigger the conversion of the neutron star into a strange star. The conversion occurs as a result of the WIMPs seeding the neutron stars with long-lived lumps of strange quark matter, or strangelets. When WIMPs are captured in the neutron star's core, they self-annihilate, releasing energy in the process. The exact energy released depends on the properties of the WIMPs, such as the WIMPs' mass. At certain energy levels, the energy will partly convert into heat that causes thermal fluctuations, which in turn can “burn” the star's nucleons into quark bubbles that eventually become strangelets.

Some of these strangelets decay rapidly and have no effect on the neutron star. But if the strangelets have a high enough baryon number, they can live up to several days. Previous research has shown that it takes about 100 seconds to convert a neutron star into a strange star, a process that could potentially be triggered by long-lived strangelets.

By figuring out the minimum required baryon number and efficiency rate for a strangelet to trigger the conversion of a neutron star into a strange star, the scientists could calculate the parent WIMP mass as a function of this baryon number. In this relationship, the more massive the WIMPs are, the higher the conversion rate from neutron star to strange star.

As the scientists note, the predicted WIMP mass limits can be investigated with current observational and experimental searches. For example, observing a strange star and measuring simultaneously its mass and radius could provide more constraints on strangelets' properties. There are currently two NASA missions in preparation that have the objective to provide this information with much improved precision than currently available data. The Space Interferometry Mission (SIM Lite), which is under development, will accurately determine distances and directly map orbits of X-ray binaries. The NASA ESA JAXA IXO (International X-ray Observatory), which has a planned launch in 2021, will determine the radius and mass of several neutron stars to within several percent, providing a strong constraint on their composition. Also, terrestrial experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) may be able to identify the formation of strangelets and further investigate their properties.

“Strangelets have been searched for so far in experiments like E864 and E896 at BNL in the US and NA52 at CERN,” said Perez-Garcia. “Currently, they are being searched for at RHIC in BNL and LHC at CERN. Their observation is difficult since we do not yet know their electrical charge nor their lifetime before they decay into other products. The proof for observation would be a large point-like signal in the zero-degree calorimeter (due to the large charge of these objects, they travel mostly straight when produced); there are some computational simulations of how this would look like.

“The strange stars have not been observed so far, and very useful information would be provided by current missions on X-ray satellites that measure luminosity of these objects (mostly in binary systems) to deduce mass and radius. In this way, we could have information of its interior composition through measuring an unusual small value of the radius of this star with a mass slightly bigger that one solar mass.”

Perez-Garcia, Silk, and Stone also predict that the neutron star conversion process could generate detectable gamma-ray bursts. In the future, the physicists hope to investigate whether annihilation inside has other observable consequences, such as altering its temperature and rotation patterns.

Explore further: Information storage for the next generation of plastic computers

More information: M. Angeles Perez-Garcia, Joseph Silk, and Jirina R. Stone. “Dark Matter, Neutron Stars, and Strange Quark Matter.” Physical Review Letters 105, 141101 (2010). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.141101

4.5 /5 (33 votes)

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VK1
1.3 / 5 (18) Oct 12, 2010
Dark matter is plausible in many models. One such model would be one of scale. Should the electromagnetic radiation we read to pinpoint objects be beyond the spectrum we're capable of detecting, whatever object of mass is present would not be evident to us. Another scenario would be that dark matter is not matter at all but mass, matter has dual properties. It is attractive ( ie. massive ) and radiative ( energetic ). If dark matter were only massive we would not be visually aware of its presence as no radiation would reach us ( ie. blackhole ). Another possible scenario would be that space itself is massive in which case a higher volume of space per given region would be classified as mass the higher the density the higher the mass. Mass in this scenario is set in infidimensional space, meaning single point, energy traversing space would roughly infinitely travel the point giving matter two known properties, mass and energy.
VK1
1.2 / 5 (17) Oct 12, 2010
Although a volume of space in a single atom may be 1 square km compressed into an area of a proton the scenario would hold true as there are many square km of space available and would account for discrepancies in galactic rotation ( ie. the galaxy itself is drawing space surrounding it ( halo ) meaning the outer reaches of each galaxy would be set at a single divisory line between another galaxy ), the line would be proportional to total mass. Eg. If two galaxies were 100 light years apart from centers and equal of mass with outer visible reaches being set at 10 and 90 light years the mass division between them would be at 50 light years. The invisible space between them is less massive per volume yet more volumous.
VK1
1.2 / 5 (17) Oct 12, 2010
A star made of atoms has em activity ( each atom radiates negative positive energy ), if we compress the space further the atoms radiation neutralizes but is still energetic ( the atoms are neutral of charge ) if we compress a star further still the energy surrounding the atoms is squeezed out leaving only mass. This scenario only works in infidimensional model. Star - neutron star - blackhole. This theory requires atoms have a singular core about which energy flows in a straight line in infidimensions. The electromagnetic wave is dependant on commonality ( ie. if positive energy is nearest to core negative is furthest, if an atom of opposite structure is introduced erradication takes place ). Atom antiatom annihilate. Neutrons are of higher frequency than protons ( infinite as no net charge is calculable ) neutrons have a shorter radii than proton electron pairs yet same energy and mass.
VK1
1.3 / 5 (19) Oct 12, 2010
Neutrons may coexist in a smaller 3 dimensional volume than other mass energy neutral combinations ( ie. proton electron pairs ). However, barrier between cores is still present. A neutron will not fuse with neutron without energy ( either gravitational or em ) overpowering the energy barrier. Although neutrons are neutrally charged they radiate. Cores without radiative energy have no barrier to keep off mergance. When radiative energy is lost from a star made of neutrons the cores merge as the em force keeping them apart is no longer present. Fusion takes place with zero resistance when em does not keep the masses separate.
Honor
4.9 / 5 (9) Oct 12, 2010
maybe you need to make sense or shut up.
yyz
4.8 / 5 (5) Oct 12, 2010
In other strange quark star news, a recent paper proposes that the first extrasolar planets, discovered around the pulsar PSR B1257+12, may be *dwarf* strange quark stars orbiting the pulsar, which they propose is a strange quark star too! Looks like strange stars are popping up everywhere. Their strange paper(pun intended):

"SQM stars around pulsar PSR B1257+12"
http://arxiv.org/...56v1.pdf
El_Nose
2.5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2010
Question -- strangelets and strange stars -- are those the hypothesized stars and matter that when interacting with normal matter transforms it into strange matter as well?, and is a possible end of the universe scenerio?

Does anyone know what i am referring to? And is that what the article is referencing without directly stating?
Mike_Bailey
2.7 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2010
Okay, this may sound a bit naive, but the concept of galaxies having "halos" of relatively dense dark matter provokes a correlation in my mind to the "brane" that forms around particles sitting on the surface tension of a liquid like water in a pond... also in my private musings after dry shaving and dropping the hairs into the toilet, the almost instant acceleration of each hair away from the center of the point of impact with the surface of the toilet water till every hair is evenly distributed within that limited surface area reminds me of what is generally postulated in Cosmology as the "Big Bang". Any extrapolations into reality possible there? Or is it the effects of an imagination on fire needing to be put out?
Skeptic_Heretic
2.5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2010
In other strange quark star news, a recent paper proposes that the first extrasolar planets, discovered around the pulsar PSR B1257+12, may be *dwarf* strange quark stars orbiting the pulsar, which they propose is a strange quark star too! Looks like strange stars are popping up everywhere. Their strange paper(pun intended):

"SQM stars around pulsar PSR B1257+12"
http://arxiv.org/...56v1.pdf

Yes but that raises an even bigger question.

Would we even be able to view a strange quark star orbiting another strange quark star through luminosity dips as we can with this pulsar system?
Taps
2.5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2010
Has anyone even considered that "dark" matter might be another spatial dimension? Just outside of our perception but with enough influence to cause gravity. These WIMP things seems like old 1800s model base thinking to me.
yyz
4.8 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2010
"Would we even be able to view a strange quark star orbiting another strange quark star through luminosity dips as we can with this pulsar system?"

I'm not sure if I understand your question, but the known 'bodies' in orbit around the millisecond pulsar in this system were discovered by anomalies they induced in the pulsar's spin rate, not by transits or eclipses of the neutron star. But if two massive objects (quark stars or neutron stars) were found in an eclipsing binary system, I could indeed imagine some wild lightcurves generated as each component took turns 'lensing' its companion! I'm sure astronomers would love to stumble upon such a system for the opportunities it would provide in testing gravitational theories.
fizzicks
1.5 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2010
So RHIC and LHC have the potential to be used for creating strangelets for research. One prediction I do not want to see validated (at least near earth) is the voracious nature of negatively charged strangelets. http://www.physic...e17.html
Skeptic_Heretic
2.5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2010
yyz, you're missing my basic statement.

Through what mechanic would a strange star generate electromagnetic emission to be seen? That's the issue. Strangeletes wouldn't be subject to the strong and weak nuclear forces in the same manner in which known stars are. They would introduce an electromagnetic trap, not an electromagnetic generator like visible matter.

Effectively, if they were strange stars, they'd be entirely dark.
jsa09
2.9 / 5 (7) Oct 12, 2010
If pigs could fly what would their wing span be? I calculate if pigs could fly they would be found on islands, and furthermore they would be delicious.

If you give me a grant of 10 million dollars I will search pacific islands for pigs, if I find any it will one step closer to proving that pigs can fly.
Graeme
4.3 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2010
Well the square kilometer array should greatly increase the number of pulsars detected, and may reveal eclipsing planets.

If a neutron star converts to a strange star there will be a large amount of energy released in that 100 seconds. This should appear as some sort of gamma ray flash. But at only one event per neutron star it may be very rare to actually observe.
daywalk3r
2.9 / 5 (16) Oct 12, 2010
And now the one about a girl and her 7 dwarf friends, please..
(and no, this is not meant as a response to jsa09's comment above.. sadly)

And now a bit off-topic:
There is nothing "strange" existing or happening in the Universe. Calling something "strange" is only a manifestation of deficiency in understanding rather than a description of its properties. Whoever comes up with these fancy names for all the superficious hypothetical constructs should be shot, as it only serves as perfect fuel for misguided thought in the minds of those who actually hardly ever have a clue..

Strange matter, Dark (as in "evil") matter, "Big-Bang" machine, Strange-let, "GOD" particle.. Awww, c'mon..

PS: jsa09, I would be rather cautious about the flyin' pigs, as it actually could happen one day ^^ On the other hand, a giant galaxy-eating potato, now that would be a much more appropriate candidate :)

Peace :)
yyz
4.8 / 5 (5) Oct 12, 2010
@SH,

"Through what mechanic would a strange star generate electromagnetic emission to be seen?"

Similar to neutron stars, strange stars are thought to have a hot tenuous 'atmosphere' or corona that radiates as a blackbody with a peak in the x-ray regime(Teff=10^6K after 1-2Mys cooling). Astronomers are now focusing on how to tell the two apart (mainly through x ray spectroscopy) and many models are proposed. Also, quark stars are thought to be rapidly rotating & have strong magnetic fields, resulting in quark pulsar emissions in x ray through radio. A quark star in a binary star system should still radiate through an accretion disk, in addition.

There are also several proposed types of quark stars: http://en.wikiped...rmations

@Graeme,

"But at only one event per neutron star it may be very rare to actually observe."

I've seen some models that propose two gamma ray flashes, but as you note, these are brief, singular events.

yyz
4.4 / 5 (5) Oct 12, 2010
"Whoever comes up with these fancy names for all the superficious hypothetical constructs should be shot.."

But such is the way of science. I agree such names can generate much confusion among the public, but of course these terms are used as shorthand between researchers in their respective fields (save for a few like 'God Particle', ugh). But think of it this way, you can tell your friends and relatives that you study Winos, MACHOs and Wimps and keep a straight face. :^)
VK1
1.1 / 5 (15) Oct 12, 2010
To be one it needs to be in same space same time. Mass. Infinitely. Time is witnessed at the event, it passes, it is lost in the events singular location, one space and time. Inbetween point of mergance reality is drawn with energy, mass becomes alive. Energy wears down mass but with the wear down, decay, there is allocation of singular events of time. Possibility has chance in a repeating system wrt space and time, event. Each singular point has infinite potential, within as a system.
ubavontuba
1.1 / 5 (8) Oct 12, 2010
Gee, all of a sudden there are papers on how dark matter affects normal matter? ...Why does this seem so familiar? Oh yeah, I only pointed out the dark matter/ordinary matter discrepancy years ago!

Anyway, this seems to shine one heck of a negative light on CERN's LSAG safety analysis...
VK1
1 / 5 (15) Oct 13, 2010
Dark matter is mass outside of flow of time, our time. The energy we are allocated from is our event, universe. Dark matter has probability, if energy flows, it flows through something, so dark matter is the stuff of the past and the future, past because it has passed it before, and future because energy will pass it and be apart of it again, the future. We are scalary differentiated, small matter falls off big matter, but within each gradiate, gradient, a new singular event system is created, with divisory potential in the future, infinity. Scale.
VK1
1.1 / 5 (15) Oct 13, 2010
Like popping bubble, with a pop new globule creation, with inflation a pop, a new glob, new potential for future division. Grades, changes with time. Mass and energy interaction, event. Simplicity leads to complexities, interacting gradients, with a big globule inflation could happen in different points, now inflation produces many bubbles, of different grades, the bubbles interact, they position with efficiency, separate, when one expands too much it explodes, causing explosions of their interactions, a self replicating system with infinite possibilities. When all rationalized you get a one to one reality. Energy of life traversing point of time, life, has positive and negative aspects of possibility, there is a neutral pass, no directional time, no event, or, divergence of neutral passing, negative or positive, if net energy is negative, direction is into a negative reality, a positive to positive. Neutral divergence of event is reality, negative and positive energy.
Foolish1
4 / 5 (3) Oct 13, 2010
I keep trying to understand the basic properties of dark matter and I'm not having much luck resolving what appear to be contradictions and my own massive ignorance.

For example why does dark matter apply to large scale structures (galaxies) but does not seem to effect smaller structures? What are the properties of DM that explain the scale behavior?

How could a dark star exist if dark matter can't interact with itself. Sure there is a lot of gravity but wouldn't that be canceled by each dark matter particles kinetic energy since there would be no friction to allow clumping as with normal matter?
Parsec
4 / 5 (2) Oct 13, 2010
yyz, you're missing my basic statement.

Through what mechanic would a strange star generate electromagnetic emission to be seen? That's the issue. Strangeletes wouldn't be subject to the strong and weak nuclear forces in the same manner in which known stars are. They would introduce an electromagnetic trap, not an electromagnetic generator like visible matter.

Effectively, if they were strange stars, they'd be entirely dark.


I don't think so. Strangelets are just clumps of baryonic matter made from strange nucleons. As such they would be subject to both the strong and electroweak forces... i.e. they should reflect and emit just like regular matter.
frajo
2.5 / 5 (4) Oct 13, 2010
Whoever comes up with these fancy names for all the superficious hypothetical constructs should be shot
But such is the way of science. I agree such names can generate much confusion among the public, but of course these terms are used as shorthand between researchers in their respective fields (save for a few like 'God Particle', ugh). But think of it this way, you can tell your friends and relatives that you study Winos, MACHOs and Wimps and keep a straight face. :^)
This may be true for native English speakers but for the rest of mankind, this fancy new nomenclature in the vicinity of "asteria", "nomos", "physis" etc. creates images of ducks waddling in front of the Akropolis. Science should not be confused with the culture of Green Lantern or the Fantastic Four even where it makes money.
vidyunmaya
1 / 5 (8) Oct 13, 2010
Sub: Search beyond Dark-matter Concepts
If one needs to identify and search for a feasible solution- Raise the Vision Index- East-West Cosmology interaction is at your door. Why do you shun away !!
http://www.scribd...rse-2003
Vidyardhi Nanduri
redrooster
1.6 / 5 (7) Oct 13, 2010
dark energy= dark matter there's your gravity relatively speaking.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (3) Oct 13, 2010
I don't think so. Strangelets are just clumps of baryonic matter made from strange nucleons. As such they would be subject to both the strong and electroweak forces...
Well no. By theory the strange nucleon would only be stable due to it's non-interaction with the weak force mediators due to the size of the strange quark in comparison to the up and down quarks. If strangelets are in fact WIMPS then you would see no interaction with the strong nuclear field.

yyz, Yes but neutron stars aren't converting their accretion disks. Strange stars would be.
yyz
4.8 / 5 (5) Oct 13, 2010
@SH,

"Yes but neutron stars aren't converting their accretion disks. Strange stars would be."

Well, not having a deep knowledge of accretion disks around all types of proposed quark stars, I'd be willing to cede that point. LOL.(I'd note that the term quark star can refer to an object totally made up of strange matter or to an object with a strange matter core and a neutronium mantle.)

But to your original query, quark stars should be visible over a wide range of wavelengths. The sticking point is how to tell a quark star from a neutron star. My previous link describes several quark star candidates (with links to published papers). The papers go into some detail about possible discriminators between the two objects. But looking at the sheer complexities involved, any discoveries of these objects may be years away, if at all. Who knows, maybe some finding from the LHC will provide astronomers with a vital clue in the hunt for quark stars.
genastropsychicallst
1 / 5 (8) Oct 14, 2010
('Einsteins' eighteen) ... isolation perma aurora armageddon uni + Exo mach 1 quasar image atom periods twistor atlas [Quarks] 2 magnon pulsar – eclip permanent deuteron ...

['My' in-seven-days] ... eclec image pion (Mars) core pi 2 ...
gopher65
5 / 5 (4) Oct 14, 2010
I seem to remember reading somewhere that the "God particle" was actually originally called the "god d*mned particle" in the article that first mentioned the term, but an editor thought that was too racy, so they just removed the middle word, and adjusted the capitalization to be "correct". The original "god d*mned particle" nomenclature was intended to indicate what a big deal (for physics) the discovery of the Higgs would be.

Editors. Ugg.
Au-Pu
1 / 5 (1) Oct 17, 2010
Here is a simple thought.
If black holes have been consuming WIMPS for 13 billion years and Neutron stars have been converting WIMPS also for 13 billion years that WIMPS would be in a similar state to oil reserves, i.e. somewhat depleted.
Surely that would question the ability of WIMPS to still comprise about 80% of the visible universes matter???
jsa09
not rated yet Oct 17, 2010
@Au-Pu.

You seem to neglect that black holes have been eating matter for 13 billion years as well.

So yes the universe has been depleted of both WIMPS and normal matter therefore the ratio may not be that much different from when it started.

What does indicate is that black holes may contain 80% of the mass of the universe and there may not be any WIMPS.
El_Nose
1 / 5 (1) Oct 18, 2010
i find it comical that i asked a direct question and it got voted a 2.5 -- but no one ever answered the question --- ratings on here mean about as much as karma on slashdot
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (6) Oct 19, 2010
Dark matter and dark energy are the result of the big bang model having no center and no boundary. Because of those two suppositions, there's an enormous discrepancy between what we observe [ a flat universe with a vanishingly small cosmological constant] and what is predicted by said model/theory [all 60 and 122 orders of magnitude]. Taken together with the red shifts which [seem to] indicate an unknown, unexplained acceleration of mass there's now a hunt for the missing force or energy causing said acceleration.
It might be much better to check out a bounded universe with a center as a model and all this unwarranted expensive research [we're talking billions of dollars here] into dark matter and dark energy goes away.

But of course the scientists have vested interests now so no one will listen.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Oct 19, 2010
Taken together with the red shifts which [seem to] indicate an unknown, unexplained acceleration of mass there's now a hunt for the missing force or energy causing said acceleration.
Well that's not really accurate. What's happening is that space itself is stretching. The matter isn't moving away from us, the space inbetween us and the matter elsewhere is growing larger. As it grows there's a greater force put upon space causing it to grow by an exponential but small rate. The further away something is in space the faster it appears to be accelerating away because the larger amount of space is growing.

Example: imagine if you had two beach balls, one was 1 foot away, the other was 2 feet away. Every hour your initial measurement of space between you and the beach balls increases at a rate of 1 inch per foot. In one hour the beachball that was one foot away is not 1 foot 1 inch away, while the beachball that was two feet away is now two feet 2 inches away.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Oct 19, 2010
cont from above:

So this appears that the further beachball is moving away more rapidly, when both are actually moving at the same rate of acceleration. To address your second point:
It might be much better to check out a bounded universe with a center as a model
Well here's the problem. If you have a center then you entirely change the dynamic. It's like using Ptolemy's model of the solar system as opposed to Keppler's. You'd have to introduce a different variable for every piece of matter in the Universe to match observations. Which means far away from us would be galaxies that are moving so fast they should shred themselves. In effect you'd be asking for
all this unwarranted expensive research [we're talking billions of dollars here]
to the power of 50 as each and every galaxy would have a different set of variables governing everything, including gravity, within them. Effectively you'd toss all the laws of motion in the garbage.
TDK
1 / 5 (10) Oct 22, 2010
Actually the same process should occur during fall of massive objects into gravitational field of black holes, the released radiation is known as an accretion radiation. The decay of radioactive elements around Sun could be triggered by field of neutrinos, which are condensing around Sun and which are behaving like more dense environment, too (the antineutrinos should be particularly effective here because of their negative curvature). I do believe, the insertion of massive objects into strong magnetic field could accelerate their evaporation and conversion into energy, which could explain function of some ZPE machines (like the Bedini electromotor, which is working like perpetuum mobile reportedly). This mechanism doesn't violate energy conservation law in the same way, like the conversion of Earth into energy, when some tiny black hole will be inserted into its core.
TDK
1 / 5 (10) Oct 22, 2010
Looks like strange stars are popping up everywhere. Their strange paper(pun intended):

"SQM stars around pulsar PSR B1257+12"
http://arxiv.org/...56v1.pdf


In this work the increased concentration of strange stars formation could indicate the approaching phase transition of vacuum, known as a space-rip.

http://arxiv.org/.../9807052

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