NASA/Goddard –Probes Great Mystery of Black Hole Creation at Big Bang (VIEW Today’s “Galaxy” Stream)

 

 

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All galaxies, including our own, exist within a vast sphere of black holes, says Alexander Kashlinsky, an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard.


New studies are providing increasingly sensitive results, slowly shrinking the box of parameters where dark matter particles can hide. The failure to find them has led to renewed interest in studying how well primordial black holes — black holes formed in the universe’s first fraction of a second — “could work as dark matter,” according to Alexander Kashlinsky, an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard.

 

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“This study is an effort to bring together a broad set of ideas and observations to test how well they fit, and the fit is surprisingly good,” said Kashlinsky. “If this is correct, then all galaxies, including our own, are embedded within a vast sphere of black holes each about 30 times the sun’s mass.”

Dark matter is a mysterious substance composing most of the material universe, now widely thought to be some form of massive exotic particle. An intriguing alternative view is that dark matter is made of black holes formed during the first second of our universe’s existence, known as primordial black holes. Kashlinsky proposes that this interpretation aligns with our knowledge of cosmic infrared and X-ray background glows and may explain the unexpectedly high masses of merging black holes detected last year.

 

 

On Sept. 14, 2015, gravitational waves produced by a pair of merging black holes 1.3 billion light-years away were detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) facilities in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana. This event marked the first-ever detection of gravitational waves as well as the first direct detection of black holes. The signal provided LIGO scientists with information about the masses of the individual black holes, which were 29 and 36 times the sun’s mass, plus or minus about four solar masses. These values were both unexpectedly large and surprisingly similar.

“Depending on the mechanism at work, primordial black holes could have properties very similar to what LIGO detected,” Kashlinsky explained. “If we assume this is the case, that LIGO caught a merger of black holes formed in the early universe, we can look at the consequences this has on our understanding of how the cosmos ultimately evolved.”

In his paper, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Kashlinsky analyzes what might have happened if dark matter consisted of a population of black holes similar to those detected by LIGO. The black holes distort the distribution of mass in the early universe, adding a small fluctuation that has consequences hundreds of millions of years later, when the first stars begin to form.

“Future LIGO observing runs will tell us much more about the universe’s population of black holes, and it won’t be long before we’ll know if the scenario I outline is either supported or ruled out,” Kashlinsky said.

Kashlinsky leads science team centered at Goddard that is participating in the European Space Agency’s Euclid mission, which is currently scheduled to launch in 2020. The project, named LIBRAE, will enable the observatory to probe source populations in the CIB with high precision and determine what portion was produced by black holes.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Image credits: LIGO 

 

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