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Is Jupiter a key to finding dark matter? | Space

Part of a planet in tans and ruddy colors with swirly bands.

The Juno spacecraft captured this picture of Jupiter throughout its thirty first shut flyby of the enormous planet on December 30, 2020. The storm often called the Great Red Spot is seen on the horizon, practically rotated out of view as Juno sped away from Jupiter at 30 miles (48 km) per second. Citizen scientist Tanya Oleksuik created this color-enhanced picture utilizing information from the JunoCam digicam. See Juno’s picture gallery. Image through NASA.

Two astrophysicists mentioned on April 5, 2021, that Jupiter would possibly function a super detector within the hunt for dark matter, the elusive and mysterious substance thought to make up a substantial fraction of our universe. Stanford University’s Rebecca Leane and Stockholm University’s Tim Linden launched a draft model of a new paper on arXiv, describing how which may work. These scientists checklist two explanation why our photo voltaic system’s largest planet may be an advantageous spot to seek for dark matter: its dimension and its temperature. Leane defined:

Because Jupiter has a giant floor space in contrast to different photo voltaic system planets, it may seize extra dark matter… You would possibly then marvel why not simply use the even larger (and really shut by) solar. Well, the second benefit is that as a result of Jupiter has a cooler core than the solar … This partially can cease lighter dark matter from evaporating out of Jupiter, which might have evaporated out of the solar.

Leane and Linden analyzed 12 years of information from the Fermi Telescope – a house observatory that sees the universe in high-energy gamma rays – in what they known as:

… the primary devoted gamma-ray evaluation of Jupiter.

They didn’t discover sturdy proof of gamma-ray emission from Jupiter that may’ve prompt dark matter, however they mentioned Jupiter might be a goal for future gamma-ray searches.

Dark matter is an elusive substance – detectable through its gravitational affect on objects in house – known as dark as a result of nobody has ever truly seen any. No one is aware of what dark matter is. According to a widespread cosmological mannequin known as the Lambda Cold Dark Matter Model (aka the Lambda-CDM mannequin, or generally simply the Standard Model), unusual atoms – the constructing blocks of our personal our bodies and all we see round us – make up solely solely round 5% of the universe. Think of that! Just 5%. The remainder of the universe consists of dark power (68%) and dark matter (27%), in accordance to this widespread idea.

So dark matter could be very mysterious. It’s potential that it’s an unidentified subatomic particle that interacts in numerous methods than scientists are used to.

How would Jupiter be a supply of dark matter? Rebecca Leane and Tim Linden identified that dark matter needs to be pulled into the gravitational wells of enormous objects, reminiscent of our solar and its largest planets. These scientists mentioned that, ultimately, sufficient dark matter would construct up in a star or planet that the dark matter particles would run into one another, inflicting annihilations of dark matter particles. The gamma rays can be telltale signal of the annihilations. And whereas we are able to’t see dark matter, we can see gamma rays, thanks to observatories such because the Fermi Telescope.

The Fermi Telescope, launched in 2008, seems for gamma radiation throughout the universe, from proper right here in our photo voltaic system to the farthest reaches of house. Fermi investigates black holes, supernovas, and, sure, Jupiter, the place it has gathered 12 years of information that the scientists mined for proof of gamma rays which may sign the annihilation of dark matter.

Woman with straight dark hair and blue flowered top in front of blackboard with scientific formula on it.

Rebecca Leane of Stanford University calls herself an “astroparticle physicist.” Her foremost analysis focus is exposing the character of dark matter. Image through Rebecca Leane.

A young man in a simple black sweater, peering intently into his computer.

Tim Linden of Stockholm University focuses on the seek for oblique alerts from dark matter annihilation within the universe. Image through Tim Linden.

While Leane and Linden haven’t discovered dark matter from Jupiter but, they did discover an intriguing extra of gamma rays at low power ranges on the fuel large. They mentioned they hope to research Jupiter with newer, extra highly effective telescopes which are nonetheless within the idea stage. These new telescopes would carry out higher on the decrease finish of their research, the place Fermi struggles.

Leane thinks their methodology of searching for dark matter might be extrapolated out to exoplanets and brown dwarfs. Future research would goal these objects which are nearer to the middle of the galaxy, the place scientists consider extra dark matter resides. The scientists assume these objects would seem hotter in infrared than planets and stars additional away, due to extra frequent dark matter annihilation of their cores. They hope that the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch later this 12 months, can present an infrared survey to verify their idea.

Thus, regardless of the dim nature of dark matter, the opportunity of future discoveries seems a bit brighter now.

Diagram with 2 blotchy blue circles and 2 green square, one with blotches.

Top left reveals the gamma-ray counts in a 45-degree area round Jupiter. Top proper reveals the identical a part of the sky when Jupiter will not be there (the background). Bottom left reveals the gamma-ray counts leftover when the background is subtracted. Bottom proper reveals the scale and place of Jupiter from the Fermi Telescope. If there was a gamma-ray extra, the bottom-left map ought to have lit up at Jupiter’s place. At these power ranges, it didn’t, though it did at decrease power ranges, prompting the necessity for additional remark with new telescopes. Image through Rebecca Leane and Tim Linden/ arXiv.

Bottom line: Jupiter’s giant dimension and funky core make it a superb goal within the seek for dark matter. A crew of scientists analyzed gamma-ray information from the Fermi Telescope searching for indicators of the elusive substance.

Source: First Analysis of Jupiter in Gamma Rays and a New Search for Dark Matter


Kelly Kizer Whitt

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