When it comes to dark matter, the substance that makes up about 27 percent of the material in the universe, scientists have a better understanding of what it isn’t than of what it is. But scientists are slowly unraveling the mystery, bit by bit.
A new paper pulling together data from a gamma ray study is proverbially shedding light on dark matter. Researchers have developed maps of the center of our galaxy that shows a high production rate of gamma rays, a result consistent with the presence of some forms of dark matter.
The center of our galaxy is teeming with gamma rays, which originate from interactions between binary systems, isolated pulsars, supernova remnants, and particles colliding with interstellar gas. It’s in this active region that astronomers expect to find the highest density of dark matter, which would make itself known by imparting some gravitational effect on visible matter; dark matter helps bind matter into things like galaxies.
One leading candidate for the building block of dark matter is what's known as a Weakly Interacting Massive Particle, collectively known as WIMPs. When WIMPs collide, they either annihilate one another or produce a new particle that quickly decays. Either event produces gamma rays, which the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) is designed to gather and measure.
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