Hey, WIMPs: Beware of Dwarf

Apr 03, 2007 By Alison Drain
Hey, WIMPs: Beware of Dwarf
Arrows in the center of this image point toward the supermassive black hole at the galactic center of the Milky Way galaxy. GLAST data may soon provide evidence of WIMP-burning stars nearby. Credit: European Southern Observatory

Stars may be bullies in their old age. White dwarfs—dense, collapsed stars in their final stage of life—could be skilled at swallowing and annihilating weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs). These particles may constitute a large portion of the dark matter in the universe, and could form extremely dense concentrations near supermassive black holes.

Physicists Igor Moskalenko and Lawrence Wai plan to glean GLAST data to learn whether these concentrations of dark matter exist. If they do, WIMP-swallowing stars could reveal the secrets of black holes.

Their paper will be published in the April 10 issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

"This research could reveal a completely new kind of star, and could provide insight into how supermassive black holes evolve," Wai said. "We're very excited about this possibility."

A few bright stars are known to orbit very close to the supermassive black hole at our galaxy's center. WIMPs may concentrate near this black hole, where white dwarfs sweeping close by could efficiently capture and "burn," or annihilate, many of them. Moskalenko and Wai propose that using GLAST to find dark matter near the supermassive black hole could implicate stars seen orbiting nearby as thriving WIMP eaters.

Their hypothesis will soon be tested when GLAST collects gamma-ray data and scientists search for dark-matter annihilations near our galaxy's supermassive black hole. If it were to be found, a spike in dark matter concentration near the black hole would betray much about the nature of our universe.

"The observation of stars orbiting close to the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy was a huge discovery," Wai said. "If some of those stars are WIMP burners, they could provide unique information on dark matter structure."

Source: Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

Explore further: Controlling core switching in Pac-man disks

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Warm gas pours 'cold water' on galaxy's star-making

Dec 08, 2014

Some like it hot, but for creating new stars, a cool cosmic environment is ideal. As a new study suggests, a surge of warm gas into a nearby galaxy—left over from the devouring of a separate galaxy—has ...

Recommended for you

Controlling core switching in Pac-man disks

19 hours ago

Magnetic vortices in thin films can encode information in the perpendicular magnetization pointing up or down relative to the vortex core. These binary states could be useful for non-volatile data storage ...

Atoms queue up for quantum computer networks

20 hours ago

In order to develop future quantum computer networks, it is necessary to hold a known number of atoms and read them without them disappearing. To do this, researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute have developed ...

New video supports radiation dosimetry audits

Dec 23, 2014

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), working with the National Radiotherapy Trials Quality Assurance Group, has produced a video guide to support physicists participating in radiation dosimetry audits.

Acoustic tweezers manipulate cell-to-cell contact

Dec 22, 2014

Sound waves can precisely position groups of cells for study without the danger of changing or damaging the cells, according to a team of Penn State researchers who are using surface acoustic waves to manipulate ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.