Tech UPTechnologyA dark matter hurricane will hit Earth

A dark matter hurricane will hit Earth

Our solar system is sinking through a galaxy cannibalized by the Milky Way, increasing the chances of detecting its dark matter. Now, the team led by researcher Ciran O’Hare from the University of Zaragoza (Spain), has discovered that a dark matter hurricane is heading at full speed towards us. The work has been published in the journal Physical Review D.

The Milky Way, and indeed all galaxies, formed within a vast halo of additional invisible mass called dark matter, which exceeds the visible component five times.

The motion of the solar system around the Milky Way means that it is moving through this halo of dark matter at 230 kilometers per second. Dark matter, therefore, appears to us as a high-speed “wind”.

10 billion solar masses heading for the Sun


Last year, the motions of nearby stars in the solar neighborhood were measured by the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite that detected a previously unknown stream, called S1, the tell-tale remnants of a smaller dwarf galaxy cannibalized by the Milky Way.
Now, this new study adds that 10 billion solar masses of dark matter from that galaxy travel along S1, directly towards the Sun.

This dark matter will hit the Earth and the Sun at speeds of 500 kilometers per second, much faster than the standard dark matter wind. O’Hare and his colleagues call it a “dark matter hurricane.”

The study explores several popular candidates for the still unknown particle that makes up dark matter to test how this hurricane would impact direct detection experiments.

The standard case postulates a weakly interacting massive particle or WIMP, from a few to hundreds of times the mass of a proton, that collides with atoms to produce a visible nuclear recoil.

Based on their calculations, the team determined that these WIMP detectors are unlikely to see any effect from S1, although it is possible that future technology, as it becomes more refined and advanced, may.

Axion detectors, like the Axion Dark Matter Experiment, have better options. They are designed to detect “axionic dark matter” , based on a hypothetical particle known as an axion.

According to the calculations of the theoretical physicist Pierre Sikivie, these ultralight particles, which we cannot see, could turn into photons (which we can see), in the presence of a strong magnetic field.

As dark matter is believed to make up about 85% of the matter in the universe, detecting the particle or particles that make it up would fundamentally change the way we look at the universe, so there is no cause for concern when we hear the term “dark matter hurricane”; in fact, it’s a good thing.

Reference: Dark matter hurricane: Measuring the S1 stream with dark matter detectors Ciaran A. J. O’Hare, Christopher McCabe, N. Wyn Evans, GyuChul Myeong, and Vasily Belokurov Phys. Rev. D 98, 103006 – Published November 2018 / DOI: https : //doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevD.98.103006

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