"The signal's distribution within the galaxy corresponds exactly to what we were expecting with dark matter — that is, concentrated and intense in the center of objects and weaker and diffuse on the edges, " study co-author Oleg Ruchayskiy, of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, said in a statement.
Dark matter is so named because it neither absorbs nor emits light and therefore cannot be directly observed. But astronomers know dark matter exists because it interacts gravitationally with the "normal" matter we can see and touch.
Dark matter and dark energy are elusive, invisible phenomena scientists have long been hunting. Will dark matter and dark energy ever be actually seen?
- Yes, it\'s only a matter of time and technology to see these elusive targets.
- Maybe, but scientists may debate the discovery for years before it is accepted.
- No, there are some things in this universe humans are not meant to understand.
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Researchers have proposed a number of different exotic particles as the constituents of dark matter, including weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), axions and sterile neutrinos, hypothetical cousins of "ordinary" neutrinos (confirmed particles that resemble electrons but lack an electrical charge).
The decay of sterile neutrinos is thought to produce X-rays, so the research team suspects these may be the dark matter particles responsible for the mysterious signal coming from Andromeda and the Perseus cluster.
If the results — which will be published next week in the journal Physical Review Letters — hold up, they could usher in a new era in astronomy, study team members said.
"Confirmation of this discovery may lead to construction of new telescopes specially designed for studying the signals from dark matter particles, " Boyarsky said. "We will know where to look in order to trace dark structures in space and will be able to reconstruct how the universe has formed."
You can read the paper at the online preprint site arXiv:
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