The main suspect in dark matter may escape from neutron stars

The Messier 83 galaxy is filled with neutron stars.

The Messier 83 galaxy is filled with neutron stars.
picture: NASA / Chandra X-ray Observatory (Fair use)

After physicists developed the theory of axons for the first time In the suburbs of Chicago 45 years ago, they quickly became a strong candidate for interpretation Dark matter. However, the ultrafine particles throughout this time remained hypothetical. Now, a team of astrophysicists has suggested that axons may be responsible for the increased emissions of X-rays seen from a cluster of neutron stars in our galaxy.

The stars – called the “Wonderful Seven” – are neutron stars That emit low-frequency X-rays from their surfaces. Neutron stars are the extremely dense ages of collapsing stars. It has strong magnetic fields and, as the name suggests, is formed in large part by neutrons. New research, Published This week in Physical Review Letters focuses on an unexplained set of high-frequency X-rays released by the seven stars.

“It could be that what we’re seeing here is evidence of new physics, and it’s evidence of axons, which is going to change our understanding of nature in a really massive way, which is difficult to convey,” said Benjamin Safdie, particle physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and author Principal of the newspaper last phone call. This discovery could come with this paper; It may come 500 years from now. This is how science works, so there is no guarantee of instant gratification. “

The main uncertainty about Axons all revolve around their existence. In other words, there is consensus among physicists about the properties these theoretical particles would have, if they existed. One of these properties is that axons may interact very weakly, and rarely, with ordinary matter. Instead of scattering matter in the star, the axes will simply escape. Another reason is that axes can be converted into photons in the presence of magnetic fields – such as those surrounding the seven neutron stars.

Researchers compare the possible behavior of axions to neutrinos, a similar (if proven) small particle that rarely interacts with another substance. Neutrons inside neutron stars are known to collide and emit neutrinos, which is the primary way a star cools down over time.

The team suggests that axons could be created in the centers of neutron stars, where they are much hotter and more energetic than the surface of the star. Just as neutrons within this super-hot dense region produce neutrinos through their collisions, so can axons be produced. The difference is that in the presence of a magnetic field, the axon can transform into a photon. This photon energy can be detected in the X-ray spectrum. Specifically in the high frequency range. Previous data for these high-frequency waves were collected, but only as a byproduct of the main topic of the investigation: low-frequency X-ray waves emitted from the surfaces of stars.

Raymond Coe, an astrophysicist at the University of Minnesota and a co-author of the paper, said in a press release. “It’s an exciting discovery of an increase in x-ray photons, an exciting possibility that really matches our interpretation of the axions.”

Safdie hopes that in the future, attention will be directed to a nearby white dwarf, which is a decaying star with less pressure and a much cooler surface temperature than a neutron star. Since white dwarfs do not emit low-frequency X-rays from their surface, no X-ray telescope has much of a reason for this. He pointed to one.

“There is really nothing that should appear at any wavelength of the X-ray,” Safadi said. “If we see a signal, we can be more confident that what we’re seeing is axons.”

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