Using exoplanets as dark matter detectors

Apr 22, 2021 (Nanowerk Information) Within the persevering with seek for darkish matter in our universe, scientists consider they’ve discovered a singular and highly effective detector: exoplanets. In a brand new paper, two astrophysicists recommend darkish matter might be detected by measuring the impact it has on the temperature of exoplanets, that are planets exterior our photo voltaic system. This might present new insights into darkish matter, the mysterious substance that may’t be immediately noticed, however which makes up roughly 80% of the mass of the universe. “We consider there ought to be about 300 billion exoplanets which can be ready to be found,” stated Juri Smirnov, a fellow at The Ohio State College’s Heart for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. “Even discovering and finding out a small variety of them might give us a substantial amount of details about darkish matter that we do not know now.” gas giant GJ 504b This exoplanet, a fuel large referred to as GJ 504b, is about 57 light-years away from Earth. Exoplanets like this will assist researchers discover and measure darkish matter. (Picture: NASA/Goddard Area Flight Heart/S. Wiessinger) Smirnov co-authored the paper with Rebecca Leane, a postdoctoral researcher on the SLAC Nationwide Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford College. It was revealed within the journal Bodily Evaluate Letters (“Exoplanets as Sub-GeV Darkish Matter Detectors”). Smirnov stated that when the gravity of exoplanets captures darkish matter, the darkish matter travels to the planetary core the place it “annihilates” and releases its power as warmth. The extra darkish matter that’s captured, the extra it ought to warmth up the exoplanet. This heating might be measured by NASA’s James Webb Area Telescope, an infrared telescope scheduled to launch in October that may be capable of measure the temperature of distant exoplanets. “If exoplanets have this anomalous heating related to darkish matter, we must always be capable of choose it up,” Smirnov stated. Exoplanets could also be notably helpful in detecting gentle darkish matter, Smirnov stated, which is darkish matter with a decrease mass. Researchers haven’t but probed gentle darkish matter by direct detection or different experiments. Scientists consider that darkish matter density will increase towards the middle of our Milky Means galaxy. If that’s true, researchers ought to discover that the nearer planets are to the galactic middle, the extra their temperatures ought to rise. “If we’d discover one thing like that, it will be wonderful. Clearly, we’d have discovered darkish matter,” Smirnov stated. Smirnov and Leane suggest one kind of search that will contain trying near Earth at fuel giants – so referred to as “Tremendous Jupiters” – and brown dwarfs for proof of heating brought on by darkish matter. One benefit of utilizing planets like this as darkish matter detectors is that they do not have nuclear fusion, like stars do, so there’s much less “background warmth” that will make it laborious to discover a darkish matter sign. Along with this native search, the researchers recommend a seek for distant rogue exoplanets which can be not orbiting a star. The shortage of radiation from a star would once more reduce down on interference that would obscure a sign from darkish matter. Among the best components of utilizing exoplanets as darkish matter detectors is that it would not require any new forms of instrumentation reminiscent of telescopes, or searches that are not already being accomplished, Smirnov stated. As of now, researchers have recognized greater than four,300 confirmed exoplanets and a further 5,695 candidates are presently underneath investigation. Gaia, an area observatory of the European Area Company, is anticipated to determine tens of hundreds extra potential candidates within the subsequent few years. “With so many exoplanets being studied, we could have an incredible alternative to study greater than ever earlier than about darkish matter,” Smirnov stated.


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