Supermassive Black Holes Interacting With Dark Matter Observed from Earth

0157_xray_optAstrophysicists says that supermassive black hole – of the type that are usually found at the core of large galaxies – could release gamma ray jets that interact with surrounding dark matter that may be detectable on Earth. A new study shows that two of the “darkest” things in the Universe may in fact be combining to produce highly-energetic radiation that may open the way for developing new techniques aimed at observing dark matter. 

At this point, astronomers only infer that dark matter exists, based on the gravitational effects it exerts on normal matter within galaxies. But the stuff itself has never been observed, despite all attempts according to a report in New Scientist. 

New information suggests that spacecrafts such as the NASA Fermi telescope could indeed discover these radiations, and make sense of their origins. The team that conducted the new study believes that this interference that occurs between black holes and dark matter may be what underlies the gamma rays that Fermi detected in the galaxy Centaurus A. 

“The exciting thing is that we have some hints from the Fermi data, but of course you need confirmation – you need other pieces of the puzzle to come together,” says Stefano Profumo, a professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz (UCSC). 

Profumo and team looked at the types of dark matter particles predicted by two major theories: one is supersymmetry, which proposes that each ordinary particle has a superpartner, and the other assumes that the universe is hiding a fourth spatial dimension. 

Profumo's team found that within a narrow range of electron energies, nearly all electrons colliding with dark matter will convert into the supersymmetric or extra-dimensional version. This "resonance" effect would produce gamma rays that could be seen in detectors near Earth, such as NASA's Fermi Space Telescope, says team member Mikhail Gorshteyn of Indiana University in Bloomington.

Though researchers believe they may have explained the gamma-rays coming from Centaurus A. new findings could dampen their enthusiasm.

The team found similar radiation coming in from the distant galaxy Messier 87. However, these gamma-rays do not match theoretical predictions of how they should look like. 

Casey Kazan via New Scientist

Image credit: NASA/Chandra

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